Sitka Sentinel Publisher Thad Poulson jokes with Congressman Don Young in the offices of the newspaper.
UPDATE: CORRECTION ISSUED BY NEWSPAPER
Editor’s note: The Monday edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel included a correction of the information that had been given to readers in the Friday edition of the newspaper. The original story is below:
A DIRECTIVE TO READERS THAT HURTS REPUBLICANS ON THE EVE OF THE PRIMARY ELECTION
The Daily Sitka Sentinel is telling its readers that only Republicans can vote on the Republican ballot on Tuesday, Aug. 21, but that any voter can vote the Democrat ballot.
That is incorrect.
The fact is that any voter who is not registered with another party can vote the Republican ballot, and it has been this way for more than 20 years.
The Sentinel is the only newspaper in the Baranof Island city of 8,800. The historic newspaper, publishing since 1940, is a family-owned and family-run operation, with publishers Thad Poulson and Sandy Poulson at the helm since 1969.
But although they have reported on hundreds of elections, they produced a story that might be expected from a rookie, but not from longtime Alaska publishers.
Could the newspaper’s report suppress votes in the Republican primary? In District 35, of the 15,107 voters, some 2,892 are registered Republican, but 9,043 are undeclared or nonpartisan. These are the people being told by their newspaper to pick the Democrat ballot.
Why would the newspaper publish such an inaccurate explanation of the voting process?
Thad Poulson has not remained politically neutral as a publisher. A registered nonpartisan, last month Poulson donated the maximum allowed — $500 — to the campaign of Democrat Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, who is unopposed on the Democrat primary ballot but will face a Republican in November.
In 2016, both Thad and Sandy Poulson donated $500 each to Kreiss-Tomkins.
Poulson has also donated in this election cycle to the campaigns of Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, according to the Alaska Public Offices Commission:
On the Republican ballot for District 35, which also covers Petersburg, Angoon, Craig, Kasaan, and other small villages, two people are running in the Republican primary for a chance to oppose Kreiss-Tomkins in November: Richard Wein, who is a City Assemblyman in Sitka, and Kenny Karl Skaflestad, the former mayor of Hoonah.
Tuckerman Babcock, the chairman of the Alaska Republican Party responded to the unfortunate story in the Sentinel: “That level of sloppy reporting is either a result of fake news from the publisher or willful ignorance. There is no excuse for it. All nonpartisan and undeclared voters are welcome to vote the Republican ballot across Alaska.”
For more information on voting, check out this story: