ANCHORAGE - Lt. Gov. Loren Leman and Division of Elections Director Laura Glaiser are appearing around the state to publicize the three ballots that will be offered in the Alaska primary Aug. 24.
The configuration of ballots is due in part to a victory in court last year by the Green Party of Alaska and the Republican Moderate Party, which sued to return to primary elections in which multiple parties may appear on the same ballot.
Anchorage Superior Court Judge Mark Rindner ruled in October that Alaska's closed primary violated the parties' rights to associate and their right to ballot access.
Glaiser said Wednesday that the configuration of the three ballots conforms to the preference expressed by each political party.
The options for voters are:
A "combined" ballot offering candidates from the Alaska Libertarian Party, the Alaskan Independence Party and the Green Party of Alaska. The ballot is open to all voters.
A "Democrat-combined" ballot, offering Libertarian, AIP and Green candidates, plus Alaska Democratic Party candidates. The ballot is available to any voter except those registered to a party that limits access to its own ballot. That means registered Republicans cannot choose the ballot.
A Republican ballot, with only Republican Party of Alaska candidates. The ballot is available to registered Republicans, nonpartisan and undeclared voters.
Glaiser said the ballots are designed to get people to participate.
"How do we maximize voter turnout?" Glaiser said. "That was the challenge to me."
Asked whether limits on choices for registered Republicans and Democrats might discourage party affiliation, Leman said it was his guess that it could. However, the numbers within his own Republican party, he said, have so far not shown that to be the case.
Leman said he wanted to encourage people to vote this year because the election is as important as any in Alaska history.
"I probably say that every election cycle, but I really believe it," he said.
Alaskans will be helping choose the president, a U.S. senator, the makeup of the Legislature and, in November, ballot measures.
"When you put all of this together, we're at a crossroads in Alaska," Leman said.
A mailed brochure already has generated a lot of interest in the primary, Glaiser said, with Alaskans calling to make sure they are registered, ask about the ballots and confirm their affiliation.
The last day for Alaskans to register to vote or change party affiliation in the August election is Sunday. Regional elections offices will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Party affiliation can be changed over the phone.
Voters may vote an absentee by-mail ballot. An application is available online at www.elections.state.ak.us or at a division office. The division must receive an application by Aug. 17 for the voter to be sent a ballot.
Beginning Aug. 9, another option is to vote in-person absentee. For those voting locations, check the division's Web site or contact one of the regional offices.
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