Judge Finds for Incumbent in Alaska Primary Election Dispute

Download(PDF): Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law in the matter of Nageak et al v. Mallot et al (Anchorage Oct. 6 2016).

Link: Judge overturns results in northern Alaska election, declaring Nageak the winner by Nathaniel Herz from Alaska Dispatch News.

A Superior Court Judge ruled in an incumbent’s favor after finding illegal double balloting in Alaska’s August primary.  Untrained election officials in the Native Village of Shungnak gave voters both Republican and Democratic ballots. A dozen votes were then disqualified after the court determined voters would have chosen the Republican ballot given their voter history.  Two ballots were disqualified in the Native Village of Kivalina under similar circumstances.

The result was a victory for the incumbent, Rep. Ben Nageak from Barrow, who secures his seat in Alaska’s House by virtue of no Republican candidate on November’s general election ballot.

From the article:

Nageak follows a Bush-Democrat tradition of caucusing with the House’s Republican-led majority, while Westlake has said he will likely caucus with urban Democrats if he wins — even if that puts him in the minority.

The challenger, Dean Westlake from Kotzebue, was originally declared the winner by four votes. A recount had him winning by eight votes. The Superior Court Judge found Negeak won by two votes.  Defendants appealed to Alaska’s Supreme Court and arguments are set for next week.

About Sarah M Donnelly

Program Coordinator for the Indigenous Law and Policy Center at Michigan State University College of Law.
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