JUNEAU — A state court judge Thursday refused to require Alaska election officials to give absentee voters a chance to fix errors that would result in the ballot not being counted.
Superior Court Judge Andrew Guidi said there are "ample resources" available for voters confused about the ballot requirements.
"And ultimately if a voter fails to comply with one of those requirements, it's the voter who disenfranchises him or herself, not the state," Guidi said in his ruling, issued immediately after hearing arguments.
The lawsuit sought an order requiring the state to notify voters and give themselves a chance to fix errors with mail-in ballots, such as a failure by a voter to sign their ballot envelope or provide voter identifying information, such as a birth date. The courts previously struck down a requirement that voters have their ballots witnessed for the Nov. 3 election due to the pandemic.
The case was brought by the Alaska Center Education Fund; Alaska Public Interest Research Group; and Floyd Tomkins, who the lawsuit said was notified after the primary that his ballot wasn't counted because it wasn't properly witnessed. Tomkins is the father of Sitka state Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins.
Kevin Feldis, an attorney for the plaintiffs, noted the high number of absentee ballots expected in the general election. He said votes will not be counted "if an honest mistake is made and a signature is omitted."
A message seeking comment was left with Feldis' office.
Lael Harrison, an attorney for the state, said the lawsuit was filed late, weeks before the election; challenged provisions that have long been in place and sought a vague remedy.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 18 states require that voters are notified and given a chance to correct issues when there is a missing signature or discrepancy.