Nageak getting legal help for election irregularities

Ben Nageak of Barrow speaks on the front steps of Alaska's Capitol in this file photo
Ben Nageak of Barrow speaks on the front steps of Alaska’s Capitol in this file photo.


As the State Election Review Board prepares to put its stamp of approval on an improperly conducted election in District 40, Rep. Ben Nageak has retained an attorney. And he went with the big one.

Anchorage attorney Tim McKeever has been tasked with representing the Barrow legislator, who is monitoring the work of the review board and looking at the options for what the next steps would be. Nageak is receiving donations to help him defray the expense.

Those options include the first step of asking for a recount. Generally, the state will pay for the recount if there is less than a 20-vote margin. The margin in the Dean Westlake-Ben Nageak race is 21 votes.


Either the candidate or a group of 10 voters with stake in the outcome would also have a right to request a recount.

The Alaska Republican Party has sent a letter to Division of Elections Director Josie Bahnke asking her to not certify the District 40 outcome if she cannot be positive about who won. That letter legally established the party as an interested stakeholder in the outcome. Bahnke has indicated that the certification will likely go forward.

Another option is to file a lawsuit with the Alaska Supreme Court, which would then refer the matter to a master, who would do a general review of the election process.

This happened in 1978 with the Hickel and Hammond race. The Superior Court granted summary judgment, finding that there was malconduct on the part of election officials “sufficient to impeach the integrity of the election process and place the true outcome in doubt.”

Tim McKeever
Tim McKeever

McKeever is a well-known go-to attorney for election law. He provides legal services relating to campaign finance and election law before the Federal Election Commission and the Alaska Public Offices Commission. This work has brought him in front of the Alaska Superior and Supreme Courts on behalf of clients that range from local candidates to members of Alaska’s Congressional Delegation and their campaigns. He has also been tapped by groups and individuals involved in offering ballot measures,

Hiring McKeever is a clear signal to the Division of Elections that it could face more than just a showdown with the Republican Party. If it certifies the election, it may face an aggrieved candidate as well in Ben Nageak.

Any voter in District 40 who has a complaint about their vote being suppressed, or if they witnessed irregularities, should contact  [email protected].

The Republican Party is concerned with the fact that all Democrats in Shungnak were allowed to vote on its ballot. It’s such an important issue to Republicans, that they fought it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court back in the 1990s, and won the right to a ballot separate from other parties in primary elections, so that organized political parties are not able to change the outcome of the Republican primary by mobbing the GOP ballot.

The Democratic Party has been silent on the matter; The Alaska Democratic Party, the governor of Alaska, and the lieutenant governor of Alaska, who oversees elections, have publicly thrown their support to Nageak’s challenger.

To assist with the legal expenses of Ben Nageak, checks of any amount may be sent to:

Ben Nageak
PO Box 914
Barrow, Ak 99723

The $500 campaign limit does not apply to this effort.