Group suing to create 'non-partisan' political party

Posted: Thursday, October 25, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- An activist is suing the state to create a party for the traditionally large segment of Alaskans whose political persuasion is ''none of the above.''

The Non-Partisan Party would be a home for Alaska voters disenfranchised by the six officially recognized political parties.

Since more than half of the 457,000 registered voters in Alaska fall into this category, the party could one day be a sizable electoral block, said the group's founder Bob Allen.

''It's not a wacko movement,'' Allen said. ''There are more unaligned voters in the state of Alaska than all other parties combined.''

The Non-Partisan Party believes all issues and candidates should be examined without regard to political affiliation.

It rejects the ''Republican dogma'' of conservative social issues that don't belong in government as well as the ''tax and spend'' policies of Democrats, Allen said.

Party members should work for what is best for the state without compromising or restricting the rights of the minority, the party's creed said.

The group would appeal to the more than 230,000 voters who don't consider themselves Democrat or Republican or a member of the four other recognized parties in the state, Allen said.

But more likely, it would be far fewer based on polls, he said.

The Alaskan Independence Party, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party and the Republican Moderate Party collectively account for 33,400 members.

Allen filed a lawsuit in Anchorage Superior Court after the state Division of Elections rejected their efforts to form the party in 1999.

State officials said they welcome another political party, but it had to be made up of willing members.

At the time of the filing, there were 82,958 registered voters in Alaska who checked the ''non-partisan'' box on their voter registration forms.

The Non-Partisan Party argued in court papers that these were its members.

''Those voters as far as we know are registered as non partisan because they don't affiliate themselves with any political party,'' said Sarah Felix, assistant attorney general.

''The Non-Partisan Party can't come in now and say, 'we claim those voters as our very own,''' Felix said.

To gain official party status, the group had to number at least 6,605 registered voters or field a gubernatorial candidate who takes 3 percent of the votes in the 2002 election, said Janet Kowalski, director of the Division of Elections.

State law forbids a party from taking a name similar to an existing recognized political party, Kowalski said.

The Non-Partisan Party did not violate that law, but it has made her office rethink the wording on its voter registration forms, she said.

''Maybe we will change that to 'not affiliated with a party' and hope no one decides to create a party called the Not Affiliated With A Party Party,'' Kowalski said.

Allen said the party intends to petition for candidates on the Nov. 5 General Election ballot. The party also hopes to win the lawsuit allowing it to be on the Aug. 27 Primary ballot.

The case is scheduled for trial in February.

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