Judge bars write-in info at the polls in Alaska

Associated Press / October 28, 2010

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ANCHORAGE — An Alaska judge granted a temporary restraining order yesterday that stopped state elections officials from giving out names of write-in candidates at polling places.

The ruling is a setback for the campaign of incumbent US Senator Lisa Murkowski, who is mounting a write-in campaign after being defeated in the August GOP primary by Tea Party favorite Joe Miller. Sitka’s former mayor, Scott McAdams, is the Democrat in the race.

Anchorage Superior Court Judge Frank A. Pfiffner said elections officials were in clear violation of an administrative regulation that reads: “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.’’

Pfiffner said in his 13-page ruling that the Elections Division surreptitiously sought approval from the US Department of Justice under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to provide polling places with a list of write-in candidates, including the name of the candidate and candidate’s party.

The Justice Department did not approve the plan, but the Elections Division implemented it anyway.

The Alaska Democratic Party sued Monday to stop the Elections Division from providing the information, and the Republican Party of Alaska joined the suit. They said it would skew voting in favor of write-in candidates.