Judge calls activist's nonpartisan party idea a joke

Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A judge in Anchorage has put an end to an activist's claim that voters who register as nonpartisan should be considered members of his newly formed Non-Partisan Party.

Superior Court Judge John Reese dismissed the idea as a joke.

''It's not a good-faith lawsuit,'' Reese said Tuesday. ''It's a wisecrack. That's all it ever was.''

The suit was filed by Bob Allen, a businessman and occasional candidate for public office. Allen created the Non-Partisan Party Inc. in 1999 as a non-profit corporation.

People who call themselves non-partisan share a philosophy, Allen said at the time. They believe issues and candidates should be examined without regard to political affiliation.

Allen then argued to the Division of Elections that voters registered as non-partisan should be considered part of his party. That would have given him enough members to qualify as an official state party and get an automatic line on the November ballot.

The Division of Elections rejected that argument.

Under Alaska law there are two ways to earn official party status: Run a candidate for governor and get at least 3 percent of the vote, or get 6,605 voters to write your party name on the ''other'' line when they register.

Allen commissioned an expert who did a poll and concluded through extrapolation that at least 9,000 registered non-partisans would want to be counted as Non-Partisan Party members, said his attorney, Jody Brion.

In court Tuesday, Brion said people who registered before the Non-Partisan Party was created can be counted as members. The group, or party, exists, he said. Allen just wants to make it official with the Division of Elections.

Assistant Attorney General Sarah Felix said the law doesn't allow parties to prove membership with a poll. ''This is a blatant display of opportunism,'' she said.

People who checked ''non-partisan'' on their registration meant they were not affiliated with any party, she said.

Reese called the lawsuit ''a semantic game'' and referred to Allen's group several times as ''Bob's Political Party . . . to avoid confusion.''

Reese granted the state's request for summary judgment.

After the hearing, Allen told the Anchorage Daily News he would probably appeal Reese's decision.

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