Judge: Parties may offer joint primary ballot

State argued it was in Alaska's best interest to have closed primary ballot

Posted: Wednesday, October 08, 2003

ANCHORAGE - Political parties may join together on a common primary ballot, according to a ruling by an Anchorage Superior Court judge.

Judge Mark Rindner ruled in favor of the Green Party and the Republican Moderate Party, which sued to negate a state law approved in 2001 that kept them from appearing on the same primary ballot with other parties.

The Greens and the Republican Moderates filed the lawsuit in 2002. Rindner heard oral arguments in August and signed his order Thursday.

Green Party Co-chairman Jim Sykes called the ruling a victory for Alaska voters.

"This does open the door once again to an open-blanket primary," Sykes said Tuesday. "It takes a step toward restoring the choices that Alaskans used to have."

Rindner said Alaska's closed primary violated the parties' rights to associate and their right to ballot access.

The Department of Law opposed the lawsuit.

Assistant Attorney General Sarah Felix argued that it was in the state's interest to have a modified closed primary ballot in which separate ballots are issued for each party.

She said that when the Republican-led Legislature made the change in 2001, it was trying to reduce voter confusion created by having candidates from several parties on one ballot.

Rindner predicted in August that any decision he made would be appealed to the Alaska Supreme Court.

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