Election Division: Republicans must accept 'turncoats' on their ballot - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, September 28, 2021
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Election Division: Republicans must accept ‘turncoats’ on their ballot

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Division of Elections Director Josie Bahnke has determined the Alaska Republican Party will be forced to accept three turncoat Republicans on its primary ballot.

The party has no right, she said, to remove candidates who have been voted by the party as ineligible to run as Republicans.

Bahnke was responding to a letter from Alaska Republican Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock, who told the Division earlier this month that the party has specific rules and plans to enforce them.

Those party rules make Reps. Gabrielle LeDoux, Paul Seaton, and Louise Stutes ineligible to run in the Republican primary. These three were elected as Republicans and a majority of Republicans were elected that year, but these three quickly formed a caucus with the Democrats and seized power, leaving their fellow Republicans in the minority.

[Read Tuckerman Babcock’s letter to the Division of Elections here: Chair to DOE Apri 6]

Bahnke’s response to Babcock says the Division disputes the party’s interpretation of the ruling by the Supreme Court and, without legal authority forcing her to do so, she will not prohibit a candidate from running on a party’s ballot, regardless of party rules.

The Alaska Republican Party is preparing a recommendation to the party’s executive committee to either file for an injunction or to file a lawsuit against the Division of Elections.

“Since a party has a right to limit who can vote in a primary to select a candidate, as determined by the Supreme Court, the party also has a right to limit who the candidates can be,” he said. “It’s far more damaging to a party to have Democrats running to be nominated than it is to limit who can vote on a primary ballot.

But Bahnke said she has no authority to honor the party’s rules. The recent Supreme Court ruling only referred to the broadening of the Democrats’ ability to allow nonpartisans, independents and undeclared candidates to run under the Democrats’ banner, but was silent on whether that applies to restricting candidates from running under a party’s banner. Her interpretation is that there is no correlation.

Josie Bahnke, Director of the Division of Elections.

Bahnke wrote: “You assert that because of that case, the Division of Elections (”Division”) must implement the Republican Party leadership’s desire to exclude from the primary election any party member who you conclude has ‘engaged in actions detrimental to . . . Republican values and goals.’ The Division of Elections does not agree with your analysis. In AS 15.25.030, the Alaska legislature adopted broad, inclusive primary candidate eligibility requirements. The Alaska Democratic Party case instructs that parties must be allowed to further broaden the choice of candidates for voters. But nothing in the superior court’s analysis or the Supreme Court’s order creates a new right for party leadership to eliminate candidate choices for the party’s voters. And history demonstrates strong public policy reasons to legislate against that.”

“Absent controlling authority to the contrary, the Division of Elections must follow existing law. The Division will allow any eligible Republican who files a timely declaration of candidacy to appear on the ballot, and the voters will decide.” – Josie Bahnke.

Bahnke did not buttress her decision with an opinion from the Department of Law, but simply said that the Division disagrees with the Alaska Republican Party and will use its own judgment.

[Read Bahnke’s ruling here: 180418 ARP response re candidate eligibility rule]

“What is the interest of the state in enforcing this to happen? She has not articulated any State interest in forcing parties to accept turncoats,” Babcock said, as he prepared to take the matter to court.

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Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • What a surprise. Not! This administration wants to
    keep the turncoats so as to get continued support for Walker’s tax and spend agenda. Problem
    is, Walker will not be around much longer. Might be worthwhile for the Republican party to file suit and hopefully give the elections director the authority she claims is necessary to do what is clearly the right thing. This Walker inspired madness will soon end!

  • Another fruitless attempt to mete consequences to traitors thwarted by .gov. And people wonder why there is apathy, low voter turn out, and a general disconnect between “government for the people” and “government by the people”.

    I dunno, maybe if everyone who believes smaller .gov is better for the citizen, who believes state government can only grow larger with it’s snout firmly stuffed into the PF, who is adamantly opposed to more expensive boondoggles…should just leave and let the liberals have the place?

    Then they can create their version of utopia upon the backs of the few remaining elements of wealth producing private sector workers…..and happily tax them all into servitude for their grandiose schemes.

    Hello, Venezuela of the North!

    • The problem with running away from the problem is that, sooner or later, you run out of places to run to. Instead, how about we stay and fight with the goal of making THEM leave?

    • And you didn’t even mention all those “librals” that will be peeping over and under the bathroom stalls in Anchorage!

  • I am a registered independent but I agree with the Republican’s take on this matter. The rules have not changed but the division of elections feels their interpretation is just…NOT

    • It’s NOT the parties money it our tax dollars that pays for their games in the primary elections. I’m an independent or undeclared voter. Never in 60 years voted in a primary but, it is my money being used by two parties who are only vying to build the parties power and money base. The parties are why we don’t have term limits. It’s about control, not the people or the country. It’s all about them.

  • Tuckerman should find out what law or regulation, if any, authorizes the Division of Elections Director to decide whose name(s) shall or shall not appear on the Republican Party’s primary ballot.

    The Lieutenant Governor supervises the Division of Elections Director.

    Presumably, the Division of Elections Director serves at the pleasure of the Lieutenant Governor.

    The Lieutenant Governor, a Democrat, is running for re-election.

    The Division of Elections Director contributed $500 to Bill Walker’s gubernatorial campaign. After he merged with Mallott, the Director gave another $200, according to campaign finance disclosures. (https://www.ktoo.org/2015/07/27/elections-director-resigns-abruptly-mallotts-request-nome-city-manager-take/)

    Therefore it seems reasonable to ask whether the Lieutenant Governor and the Division of Elections Director should be recused from deciding whose name(s) shall or shall not appear on the Republican Party’s primary ballot.

  • The best thing that could happen would be to dump the primary races. Groups that want to support a cannadit with their values could still put their money behind what ever candidate they wanted, but no group would choose who was on the ballot, they would all be their.

  • The Republican Party has every right to restrict who is on their ballot and the Division of elections can sue when it is restricted. The Division of Elections is a fraud.

  • Curious what Josie’s party affiliation is…

    • Lots of State employees and appointees are N/P as a flag of convenience. You have to look at what they do, who they associate with, and who they or their SO give money to.

    • The Division of Elections Director contributed $500 to Bill Walker’s gubernatorial campaign. After he merged with Mallott, the Director gave another $200, according to campaign finance disclosures.


      There’s a clue…

  • Division of Elections Director can not offer a fair and unbiased opinion. The process of picking the person for the office prevents this. Take it to court.

  • Seems like this and every type of cheating democrats can do and will do. In New York governor is filing executive order to let felons while on parole to vote. Just to ensure that they win.

  • Cant wait to vote for Seaton. He truly represents his constituents. Republican party leaders want to force feed us their candidate instead of the peoples choice. Pretty sad.

    • Nice gesture…

      Peoples State Representative Seaton should get one or two votes.

  • It is black letter law from the USSC’s Davis case in California that a part has a 1st Am. right to choose its membership, candidates, and processes. That said, the Democrats can always find a Superior Court judge who’ll do them a great service in hopes of appointment to a higher court, and by the time the case gets to the AKSC the election will be history and the question moot, Funny how it so often works that way.

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