Wrangell High School 1980 graduate named state elections director

Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom on Feb. 15 appointed a longtime state employee and Republican Party supporter to lead the Alaska Division of Elections.

Carol Beecher, who led the state's child support enforcement division for the past nine years, will now administer Alaska's elections. Her first day was Feb. 15.

Beecher grew up at a logging camp on Zarembo Island and graduated from Wrangell High School in 1980, according to the lieutenant governor's office.

She succeeds Gail Fenumiai, the division's longtime director who retired late last year after administering Alaska's first ranked-choice elections.

Beecher began working for the state in 2005 under several Republican elected officials, including an internship with former state Sen. John Coghill and a stint as former Gov. Sarah Palin's scheduler.

She has been a registered Republican and has a history of making contributions to the campaigns of Republican candidates, including former President Donald Trump in 2016 and Gov. Mike Dunleavy. Her most recent contribution to Dunleavy and Dahlstrom's campaign was in October, four months before Dahlstrom selected her for the role.

According to Alaska state statute, "it is essential that the nonpartisan nature, integrity, credibility, and impartiality of the administration of elections be maintained. To that end, the director of elections ... may not join, support or otherwise participate in a partisan political, faction, or activity, including but not limited to the making of political contributions." The statute permits election workers to register for a political party but not to be officers of a party or political committee.

Beecher also contributed to the campaign of Kelly Tshibaka, a right-wing Republican who ran for U.S. Senate unsuccessfully last year, losing to incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski. In the wake of her election loss, Tshibaka has turned her attention to denigrating Alaska's new ranked-choice voting system.

Beecher contributed $350 to Tshibaka's campaign and $412 to Dunleavy's 2022 campaign. She has also made several contributions to the Alaska Republican Party and the Anchorage Republican Women's Club.

"While she is not confirmed by the Legislature, I look forward to hearing from her about her take on the 2022 elections/ranked-choice voting and how to improve ballot accessibility before the Senate State Affairs Committee," said Sen. Scott Kawasaki, a Fairbanks Democrat who chairs the committee, in a written statement.

Beecher earned a master's degree in 2010 in public administration from the University of Alaska Anchorage, and a bachelor's degree in 2007 from UAA, according to her resume.

The appointment comes as states push back increasingly against a wave of election-related misinformation, and Dahlstrom - who is charged with overseeing Alaska's elections - has lamented the misinformation that surrounded Alaska's recent election.

In her initial interview with Alaska reporters, Beecher declined to say whether President Joe Biden was fairly elected in 2020. "I can't speak to what happened nationwide," she said. "I voted, I think that it was done in accordance to the law in Alaska. And that's what I can speak to. I don't know how the things went in the other states."

Beecher characterized herself as "a layman" on elections. "I believe that President Biden was elected, and that it was in accordance to the laws and requirements of the various states. I know, there's been a lot of controversy about that issue. But I don't know enough to know what happened in those various states," she said.

Of 44 federal court cases filed by the former president and his supporters over the results of the 2020 presidential election, Trump prevailed in only one, and that was later overturned.

In Arizona, Michigan, Georgia and Pennsylvania - all states decided by tight margins and key to the national result - hand counts and post-election audits confirmed the result and found no evidence of fraud significant enough to sway the result.

Before his departure from office in December, then-Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer said addressing and defeating misinformation turned into one of the key challenges for the Division of Elections during his term. Meyer is a Republican.

The Alaska Beacon contributed to the reporting for this story.


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