ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Early voting got off to a rough start Monday, with the state Division of Elections receiving a complaint from the Alaska Democratic Party about a list of write-in candidates posted at a polling station in Homer.
The party says the posting of the list violated state law, prompting division officials to act fast to correct what they say was a mistake.
“This is an unfortunate start to the election season -- we're already off to a bad footing,” said Democratic Party Chair Patti Higgins.
Higgins says a voter tipped the party off to the posted list of write-in candidates, which he snapped a picture of.
“There's a list that was posted in the polling location with a list of the people that had already been listed as certified write-in candidates, and there's an actual law on the books that says there can't be a list in the polling station or within 200 feet of the polling station,” Higgins said.
According to state law, “any information regarding a write-in candidate may not be discussed, exhibited, or provided at the polling place, or within 200 feet of any entrance to the polling place, on Election Day.”
“We always want to be helpful, but at this point, you know, it's a test: you go into the voting booth and you vote for who you want to, and you can't talk about it,” Higgins said.
However, the law also states that “Instructions for indicating a write-in choice will be posted in each polling place. If the instructions are not understood, the voter may ask an election official for assistance.”
In a response to the Democratic Party's concerns, the Division of Elections says all voting locations will have an official write-in candidate list and will make it available to voters -- but only by request.
“I just hope they're very, very careful to be fair and run a clean election,” Higgins said.
According to Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell’s office, all absentee voting locations have been contacted to reinforce the original instructions that the write-in list is not to be posted, and asked to report any incidents similar to what happened in Homer.
State election officials have segregated 17 ballots that were cast at the Homer location where the write-in candidate list was illegally posted.
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