By Associated Press - Wednesday, September 16, 2020

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The Alaska Democratic Party has objected to a change to the state’s general election ballot under which candidates no longer are required to list their party registration.

The state Democratic Party said the move is biased, lacks transparency and was disclosed days before ballots are mailed to overseas voters, The Anchorage Daily News reported Monday.

Under the rule change, candidates are listed as the nominee of a party or as having entered a race through the petition process. The change appeared on sample ballots posted on the Alaska Division of Elections website.

The change was made Monday by Alaska Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai, who did not immediately provide an explanation.

Alaska Democratic Party Executive Director Lindsay Kavanaugh said she was “dismayed and disgusted at the lack of transparency” by the elections division.

The ballot update affects Al Gross, who is running for U.S. Senate against incumbent Republican Dan Sullivan, and Alyse Galvin, who is running for U.S. House against Republican incumbent Don Young.

Both Gross and Galvin have touted independence from a major party as a central aspect of their campaigns but the ballot does not indicate they are independents or nonpartisan. Along with registered Democrats who won party primaries, they are listed as “Democratic Party Nominee.”

The change also affects nonpartisan Alaska Senate candidates Jim Cooper and Tom Lamb and Alaska House candidates Calvin Schrage and Suzanne LaFrance.

Sullivan Campaign Director Matt Shuckerow said Gross had options for how he would appear on the November ballot in his challenge for Sullivan’s seat. The Sullivan campaign challenged Gross’ independent status, suggesting he is a Democrat who found political expediency in running as an independent.

“Instead, he actively sought and secured the backing of the Alaska Democratic Party,” Shuckerow said. “I’m not sure why he doesn’t want it now.”

Gross campaign spokeswoman Julia Savel said the campaign prefers the 2018 ballot format but does not plan to challenge the change.

“The lieutenant governor should tell Alaskans why he arbitrarily changed the ballot from its 2018 format,” Savel said.

Josh Applebee, chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, said Fenumiai made the change, not Meyer.

Young’s campaign manager, Truman Reed, did not respond to a request for comment.

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