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Alaska primary certification can go ahead, according to Supreme Court rules


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The Alaska Supreme Court ruled on Saturday that certification of the state’s special primary election for the U.S. House can go ahead following a legal challenge over ballot access. for visually impaired voters.

The court overturned and overturned a lower court order preventing state election officials from certifying the results of the special primary until visually impaired voters are given a ‘full and fair’ opportunity to vote .

State prosecutors had asked the High Court to overturn Superior Court Judge Una Gandbhir’s Friday order. Lawyers said Gandbhir’s decision prevented election officials from completing voting on Saturday as planned.

Gandbhir had ruled that election officials in Alaska could not certify the results of the special primary by mail until visually impaired voters had had a “full and fair opportunity to participate” in the election, although she did not did not specify what this would require.

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Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin speaks to supporters during the opening of her new campaign headquarters in Anchorage, Alaska, Wednesday, April 20, 2022.

Alaska State Commission on Human Rights Executive Director Robert Corbisier sued state election officials last week on behalf of a registered voter in Anchorage with a disability. visual.

Lawyers for Corbisier said the election did not offer adequate methods for visually impaired people to vote “without the invasive and unlawful assistance of a sighted person”. State attorneys said many secret ballot options were available.

An explanation of the Supreme Court’s decision will be published at a later date.

Alaska’s primary election features 48 candidates hoping to win the state’s only House seat left vacant by the March death of longtime GOP Rep. Don Young.

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Alaska primary certification can go ahead, according to Supreme Court rules

Mary Peltola, a Democrat seeking the sole U.S. House seat in Alaska, speaks during a forum for candidates, Thursday, May 12, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)
(AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)

The main contenders in the race are Republicans Nick Begich, Tara Sweeney, Josh Revak and former Governor Sarah Palin; Democrats Christopher Constant and Mary Peltola; independent Al Gross; and a self-proclaimed “independent, progressive and democratic socialist” whose legal name is Santa Claus, who attracted attention but raised no money.

This is the first election under a preferential voting system for general elections that was approved by voters in 2020.

In this system, voters choose a candidate for the special primary. The four candidates with the most votes will then move on to a special election where preferential choice voting will be used. The winner of the special election will serve the remainder of Young’s term, which ends in January.

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Alaska primary certification can go ahead, according to Supreme Court rules

Santa Claus stands outside the North Pole Post Office, Sunday April 24, 2022. A self-proclaimed ‘independent, progressive and democratic socialist’ whose legal name is Santa Claus has attracted attention but has not collected any funds.
(Iris Samuels/Anchorage Daily News via AP)

The special election will coincide with the regular primary on August 16. The regular primary and general election in November will determine who will serve a two-year term beginning in January.

The special primary is being conducted primarily by mail due to the short time to hold an election after Young’s death, election officials said. Ballots were sent from the end of April.

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About 130,000 ballots had been returned to the Elections Division by Friday afternoon.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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