Appeals panel to hear Anchorage voting law complaint

Posted: Sunday, May 04, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) Three judges have been appointed to hear a complaint about a change to Anchorage voting laws.

Mary Schroeder, chief judge for the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, appointed Appeals Court Judge Richard Tallman of Seattle, Senior District Court Judge James A. Von der Heydt and District Court Judge James Singleton to hear the complaint. A hearing date has not been set.

Alaska, history of discrimination against Alaska Natives, is among nine states where voting changes must be approved by the federal government. Under federal law, complaints must be heard by the multijudge panel.

Anchorage voters approved a ballot proposition April 1 to lower the percentage of votes needed to win municipal office from more than 50 percent to more than 45 percent. Anchorage attorney Ken Jacobus filed a lawsuit on behalf of two Anchorage-area Native women arguing the city did not get the mandatory federal review before the election.

The change went into effect immediately and allowed former Assemblyman Mark Begich to win the election with just over 45 percent of the vote.

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