In the August special general election to decide a U.S. House representative for Alaska, there will be only three names for the ranked-choice ballot. Not four.
A decision today by the Division of Elections thwarts the plans of some who wish to have fifth-place candidate Tara Sweeney move into the fourth place position on the August special general election ballot for Congress, now that one of the four top finishers has dropped out.
The sudden exit of third-place Al Gross, who had earned 18,936, or 12.65% of the vote during the special primary election to replace Congressman Don Young, created a dilemma: Did Ballot Measure 2, which muddied the election laws in Alaska in 2020, intend for a fifth-place finisher to be able to move up if one of the top four quit or died after a special primary election? Does that slot on the ranked-choice ballot remain blank? Or does it contain the quitter’s name? According to the Division of Elections, it remains blank. Three continue on.
Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai said, in an explanation, that Gross’ name will be removed, as requested, from the ballot for the special general election. But “Because this withdrawal occurred less than 64 days before the election, Alaska law does not permit the fifth-place candidate to advance.”
She cited Alaska Statute 15.25.100(c), which says, “if a candidate nominated at the primary election … withdraws … after the primary election and 64 or more days before the general election, the vacancy shall be filled by the director by replacing the withdrawn candidate with the candidate who received the fifth most votes in the primary election.”
Fenumiai said that any party wishing to challenge her ruling should do so quickly because the Division requires a final determination from the courts by noon on June 28 in order to print the ballots in time to meet state and federal deadlines and keep the special general election on schedule to be combined with the regular Aug. 16 primary.