Pruitt, others file election challenge in Alaska House race

FILE - In this March 5, 2020 file photo, Alaska Republican House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt,...
FILE - In this March 5, 2020 file photo, Alaska Republican House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt, left, speaks with Rep. George Rauscher on the floor of the House in Juneau, Alaska. Pruitt, of Anchorage, is challenging in court his 11-vote loss in a state House race to Democrat Liz Snyder. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File)(Associated Press/ Becky Bohrer)
Published: Dec. 10, 2020 at 4:51 PM AKST
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JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Republican House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt is among those challenging in court his 11-vote loss in last month’s election, citing errors “sufficient to change the outcome of the election.”

The challenge comes with control of the state House undecided.

The lawsuit raises concerns with the elimination of witness requirements for absentee ballots, which applied to absentee ballots cast statewide following an October ruling by the Alaska Supreme Court, not just this race.

The case also alleges the Division of Elections failed to provide proper notice of a polling location change.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Pruitt and several individuals, previously described as voters in his district, who sought a recount in his race. That recount, held Friday, showed Pruitt lost by 11 votes to Democrat Liz Snyder. Pruitt gained a vote and Snyder lost one during the recount.

Both Snyder and Stacey Stone, an attorney representing the plaintiffs in the election challenge, described the recount process Friday as smooth, though Stone at that time flagged concern with the polling location change issue now cited in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit asks that properly cast votes “be properly tabulated” or that a new election be held. Separately, those who joined Pruitt in his challenge filed a recount appeal, alleging certain ballots were counted when they shouldn’t have been and other issues.

A message seeking comment was left Thursday for Stone. Maria Bahr, a spokesperson for the state Department of Law, said the department is “reviewing the pleadings and will respond in a timely manner.”

The lawsuit names as defendants Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, who oversees elections, and Gail Fenumiai, the Division of Elections director.

Holly Wells, an attorney who represented Snyder during the recount, said Snyder would seek to intervene in the case. Snyder, by text, described the job election officials did during the recount as “objective and thorough.”

“I believe every legal vote must be counted, and that every Alaskan voter’s voice be heard, and I believe that’s what happened in this election,” Snyder said.

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