- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 8, 2020

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - A lawsuit filed Tuesday asks a judge to block election officials from enforcing during the COVID-19 pandemic a requirement that Alaska absentee voters have someone witness them signing their ballots.

The plaintiffs are the Arctic Village Council, a tribal government; the League of Women Voters of Alaska; and two individuals that the lawsuit says have health concerns.

The lawsuit seeks to have the witness requirement declared “unconstitutionally burdensome” on the plaintiffs’ right to vote amid the pandemic.

Maria Bahr, a state Department of Law spokesperson, said the department needs time to evaluate the complaint. The lawsuit names as defendants Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, who oversees elections; Gail Fenumiai, director of the Division of Elections; and the division.

Groups representing the plaintiffs - including the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska; Native American Rights Fund; and Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law - last week asked Meyer and Fenumiai to not enforce the witness requirement this fall.

Meyer, in response, said making exceptions to the law, “even on a piecemeal basis, would erode the foundation upon which Alaskans have built their faith in the election process.”

He also encouraged voters to “think creatively” about how to fulfill the witness requirement “in a safe manner.”

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