Attorney General to Appeal Decision Allowing Two State Judges to Remain on November 2004 General Election Ballot
August 19, 2005
(Anchorage) – Today Alaska Attorney General David Márquez announced that the Department of Law will file an appeal on behalf of the Division of Elections regarding a recent trial court decision allowing two state judges to remain on the November 2004 general election ballot.
On July 28 Superior Court Judge William Morse determined that Superior Court Judge Michael Jeffery (Barrow) and District Court Judge Nancy Nolan (Anchorage) had timely filed their notices of intention to run for retention on the November 2004 ballot despite the undisputed fact that both judges submitted their declaration of candidacy forms to the Division of Elections over two weeks after the filing deadline, with the request that the Division accept them late.
Under Alaska law the notice to file must be made by August 1st before the general election. In addition, the Alaska Supreme Court has held that the Division of Elections has no discretion to accept a late-filed declaration of candidacy, and that the Division must strictly construe the statute requiring this filing.
However, in Jeffrey v. Glaiser and Nolan v. Glaiser the court said that the Division of Elections abused its discretion by refusing to put the names of judges on the ballot.
Even though the Division of Elections provides a declaration of candidacy form, Judge Morse determined that Judges Jeffrey and Nolan fulfilled the filing requirement when a Judicial Council employee sent an email containing the addresses of the judges eligible for retention, without their knowledge, to a temporary employee at the Division of Elections whose job was to coordinate the ballot pamphlet sent to Alaska voters. This Elections employee then mailed the judges information about how to submit ballot pamphlet materials, along with a reminder that they were required to file their declarations of candidacy by August 1. The Judicial Council employee also later sent a reminder to the candidates, stating that if they failed to file a declaration of candidacy with the Division of Elections by August 1, their names would not appear on the ballot.
"The Division of Elections is charged with running a fair election, and this requires clear rules that the public understands," said Márquez. "The superior court decision recognizes that there are concrete deadlines for filing declarations of candidacy for any office, but establishes ambiguous standards for what constitutes a declaration by a judicial candidate. The burden that this decision places on the Division combined with the importance of the legal issue compels us to seek review by the Alaska Supreme Court."
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