Panel studies proposed changes to Alaska primary elections

Posted: Friday, January 26, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- A task force will look at ways to make Alaska's primary election comply with a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer, who oversees the state Division of Elections, has named a panel of four former lieutenant governors, a representative of the League of Women Voters and two former attorneys general to come up with recommendations for a solution.

The task force will have to move quickly to come up with a bill that can be introduced and acted upon during the current legislative session, Ulmer said.

The high court ruled last June that California's blanket primary was unconstitutional. Alaska's primary was similar to California's, listing all candidates on a single ballot that was open to all voters.

As a result of that ruling, Alaska's August 2000 primary was held under emergency regulations, and voters had to choose a ballot with either the Repbulican candidates or with all other candidates.

Ulmer says that was only a temporary solution.

The task force will review Alaska's laws, court decisions and primary election systems in other states.

Joining Ulmer on the panel are former Lieutenant Governors Lowell Thomas Jr., H.A. Red Boucher, Stephen McAlpine and Jack Coghill, Joyce Anderson of the League of Women Voters, and former attorneys general Doug Baily and Avrum Gross.

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