WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, Aug. 23, the Arctic Village Council, League of Women Voters of Alaska and two voters filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s refusal to rectify ballot curing issues that disenfranchised thousands of voters in the special primary election — the state’s first all-mail only election — held in June. In the lawsuit brought against Lieutenant Governor Kevin Meyer (R) and the Alaska Division of Elections, the plaintiffs allege that the Division of Elections rejected over 5,000 ballots cast during the special election due to ballot envelope deficiencies that could have been cured (meaning fixed) had the plaintiffs been informed of these errors. The complaint explains that these “common but easily curable mistakes include: improper or insufficient witnessing; not providing a voter identifier [number] or the voter identifier not matching voter records; or lack of a voter signature.”
According to the complaint, the Division of Elections failed to notify voters of rejected ballots until after the election was certified, which rendered any eventual notification “meaningless” since voters were ultimately unable to correct inadvertent ballot errors and have their votes counted. Furthermore, the plaintiffs note that from Native American voters in Alaska are more likely to be disenfranchised as a result of the Alaska Division of Elections’ refusal to allow for ballot curing, highlighting that Native American voters experienced a markedly higher rate of ballot rejections in the June special election. The lawsuit states that the defendants’ rejection of ballots without allowing for curing opportunities violates the right to vote and due process guaranteed under the Alaska Constitution. Additionally, the plaintiffs request that the court prohibit the defendants from implementing the witness, signature and identification requirements for mail-in ballots without also giving voters the chance to cure errors and have their votes counted before election results are finalized. The plaintiffs also point out that 24 states as well as the state’s largest city, Anchorage, offer opportunities for ballot curing and urge the state to follow suit in future elections.