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Citizens' lawsuit over write-in campaign dropped

November 01, 2010|by Megan Baldino

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A federal lawsuit filed to prevent a list of write-in candidates from being handed out at Alaska polling places has been dropped.

The suit was filed on behalf of five people who claim the Alaska Supreme Court's ruling on Friday violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Attorney Kevin Clarkson, who filed the suit, calls a decision by the Department of Justice late Monday astonishing.

Clarkson sued saying that Friday's Supreme Court decision changed the voting procedure by not including party affiliation, which he claims violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

He says some minority voters might use party affiliation to choose their candidate.

Clarkson said a previous ruling by the DOJ supported his claim.

In Kingston, North Carolina, the attorney general found that removing party affiliation would reduce the ability of voters to elect their candidate.


Late Monday, the Department of Justice issued the state pre-clearance, which gave the state permission to change its voting procedure, essentially making the lawsuit a moot point.

“It's astonishing because it's so quick, I don't think in the history of the Department of Justice voting rights section, they've done this before, but it's also astonishing because it contradicts a position the DOJ has taken in the past,” Clarkson said.

Attorney General Dan Sullivan released a statement on his objections to the temporary restraining order.

 "The only remedy the plaintiffs' arguments could justify is an injunction requiring the state to use the original, pre-cleared list of registered write-in candidates that includes party affiliation,” he said. "That would not save the plaintiffs from any ascertainable harm and would require the Division of Elections to defy an order from the state supreme court."

In its own letter to the state, the Department of Justice said the attorney general does not object to the change involving the drop of party affiliation. Articles