Alaska Democrats and Republicans Unite Against Listing Write-In Candidates

Posted October 26, 2010 at 8:29pm

The Alaska Division of Elections has come under fire for providing a list of certified write-in candidates to voters at polling places, an unprecedented move that critics suggest was done to aid Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who is running as a write-in.

The state Republican and Democratic parties have joined to sue the Division of Elections to force the agency to stop providing the list, the Anchorage Daily News reported Tuesday.

Murkowski, who is running for re-election against Republican nominee Joe Miller and Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams (D), issued a statement in support of the list, Alaskan news station KTUU-TV reported Monday. “The Division of Elections should, as the law requires, assist voters who wish to write in a candidate in any race. Providing lists of certified write-in candidates to voters, when asked, is both appropriate and legal,” the statement said.

McAdams and Miller disagreed, according to KTUU-TV. “To provide someone at the polling area with names and a list of names is an inappropriate use of resources in the polling area,” McAdams said.

Margaret Paton-Walsh, an attorney for the Division of Elections, has acknowledged that providing a list of certified write-in candidates to voters at polling places has never been done before, but she said it was done in anticipation of heavy interest in write-in voting this year. According to recent polls, Murkowski and Miller are in a dead heat, with McAdams running third.

“This is purely designed to provide assistance to voters, and there is no advocacy aspect to this list,” Paton-Walsh said, according to the Daily News. “The write-in list is shown only to voters who request assistance with a write-in candidate.”

A state judge has asked both the Murkowski campaign and the state to submit by Tuesday afternoon arguments for why the list should continue to be provided. A ruling is expected Wednesday.