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Judge orders Alaska to rewrite ballots

A Superior Court judge has ordered the state to rewrite, reprint and redistribute all 517,000 of its ballots for the Nov. 2 election.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A Superior Court judge on Wednesday ordered the state to rewrite, reprint and redistribute all of its ballots for the Nov. 2 election, saying the wording of a ballot initiative was inaccurate and biased.

Elections officials said that they could comply with the order, but that it would take 15 days and cost nearly $300,000.

The ballot initiative concerns how the state fills its U.S. Senate vacancies.

Currently, the governor can appoint a replacement to a vacant Senate seat. The initiative would abolish appointments and require a special election in all cases except when the vacancy occurs within 60 days of a primary election.

The four-sentence summary on the ballot wrongly estimates how long a Senate seat would be vacant under the initiative, Judge Moorage Christen wrote in her order. The summary also says the measure would leave Alaska without full representation in the Senate, wording which is not impartial, she said.

“Emphasizing one consequence to the exclusion of others is impermissible advocacy,” Christen wrote.

Nearly all 517,000 ballots have arrived at the state’s regional election offices, according to Thomas Godkin, an administrative supervisor for the Division of Elections. He said it will take 15 days to reprint and redistribute the ballots and will cost the state about $295,000.

Ballots are required to arrive at regional election offices 25 days before the election. Reprinting and redistributing them will break that deadline, but Godkin said there is little danger of any precinct not receiving its ballots by Nov. 2.