ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Two of Alaska's smaller political parties will have to scramble to keep their place on the ballot for the 2004 election.
The Green Party and the Republican Moderate Party both failed to get three percent of the votes cast in the governor's race. Under state law, they must either meet that three percent threshold or have that number of registered voters -- about 6,000 -- to remain on the ballot by June 2004.
If they don't have enough party members, their candidates will have to circulate petitions to get on the ballot.
Green Party candidates in two other statewide races -- for U.S. Senate and House seats -- got well over the 3 percent mark in their campaigns, but only the governor's race counts under law. Jim Sykes, a Green Party officer who ran against Republican Ted Stevens in the Senate contest -- said on election night the party may go to court to protect its spot. Sykes could not be reached Thursday or early Friday.
Republican Moderate Party founder Ray Metcalfe, who got 38 percent of the vote but lost a House race Tuesday, said he intends to grow his party enough in the next two years to recapture its ballot position.
The Moderates have 3,074 registered voters today, according to the state Division of Elections. Metcalfe said the party's numbers are growing by about two voters a day, ''so in two years we should be somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 in numbers ... even if we do nothing between now and the next election.''
The Libertarian Party of Alaska has about 7,230 registered voters. That's enough to maintain the party's automatic place on the next state election ballot. The Alaskan Independence Party has more than 17,000 registered members.
If the Greens and Republican Moderates don't have enough members by June 1, 2004, their candidates for state House, Senate and governor will need to collect signatures equal to 1 percent of the votes cast in each race this year.
In House races, that would be anywhere from 45 to 100 signatures, depending on the district. For Senate races, it could be twice as high.
Candidates should be able to get that many signatures without too much trouble, Metcalfe said. But getting on the ballot in the governor's race in 2006 would be much more difficult. At least 2,000 signatures would be needed.
In any event, Metcalfe said he is confident his party will measure up by 2004. The Moderates are working on a new Internet Web page to attract new members, he said.
''It will have unique and interesting features that will make Alaskans want to go there,'' he said.
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