Alaska absentee ballots sent with incorrect candidate name

September 22, 2020 GMT

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Division of Elections listed the wrong Democratic candidate on 135 absentee ballots emailed to Alaska residents who are overseas, officials said.

The ballots incorrectly listed Adam Lees as the Democratic candidate for House District 28 in Anchorage, The Anchorage Daily News reported Monday.

Lees was replaced on the ballot by Anchorage Assembly member Suzanne LaFrance, a registered nonpartisan voter who was named the Democratic nominee after Lees won the Democratic primary and withdrew in her favor Aug. 31.


LaFrance was notified by a voter who shared a photo of an incorrect ballot and LaFrance informed the elections division, she said.

Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai confirmed the error.

“Although staff updated the templates for the mailed ballots, the ballots sent through email to be printed out and mailed in were not properly updated with candidate LaFrance’s name,” Fenumiai said in a written statement.

Fenumiai notified the vendor managing the online ballot distribution, which recalled the emails sent with the wrong ballot, she said.

“We will identify those voters that opened the email, contact them, and ensure they get a corrected ballot emailed to them as quickly as possible,” Fenumiai said.

LaFrance faces Republican James Kaufman and independent candidate Benjamin Fletcher for the seat currently held by Republican Rep. Jennifer Johnston, who lost to Kaufman in the Republican primary. Adolph Garcia is a registered write-in candidate but does not appear on the ballot.

The state sent several thousand absentee ballots by mail to overseas voters Friday ahead of a federally imposed deadline.

The state emails blank ballots to voters who request “electronic transmission.” Those voters complete the ballot on computers before printing and returning it by mail or fax.

Alaska Democratic Party Director Lindsay Kavanaugh said she was not surprised by the error.

“There is a pattern of repeated mistakes, lack of transparency, and lack of voter education from the Division of Elections and Lt. Governor Kevin Meyer,” Kavanaugh said in a written statement.

The mistaken ballots were issued in the same week that an emergency lawsuit unsuccessfully challenged the state’s ballot design, which three federal and state candidates said was biased against Libertarians and independents.