Alaska judge finds issue with ballot witness requirements

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – A state court judge on Monday ruled enforcement of witness requirements for absentee ballots in Alaska during a pandemic “impermissibly burdens the right to vote” but did not immediately put into effect an order eliminating the requirement for the general election.

Superior Court Judge Dani Crosby gave the parties until late Tuesday to propose how the Division of Elections should communicate the message and said she would later issue an order “specifying how to implement elimination” of the requirement for the Nov. 3 election.

She noted the state might appeal to the Alaska Supreme Court.

The case was brought by Arctic Village Council, a tribal government; the League of Women Voters of Alaska; and two individuals who have cited health concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A state attorney argued a change in requirements so close to the election could cause voter confusion and said the Division of Elections is concerned about its credibility with voters.

Maria Bahr, a Department of Law spokesperson, said Crosby's decision “makes it clear that the injunction is not yet in effect meaning the requirement for signature witnesses is still in place.” She said the department, in consultation with the division, “is evaluating the decision and considering possible options.”

 

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