Weird things to know about Alaska's Special Primary Election to fill what will be five months of Don Young's last term.
As of Friday evening, 51 people filed to finish out Don Young’s term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Some may have decided to drop out and they have until noon Monday to withdraw or their names will be on the Special Primary ballot. The election will be historic for several reasons.
Weird things to know about this election:
- Election day is June 11, a Saturday for the first time ever.
- You can only vote for one candidate in the Special Primary. Only one.
- Party affiliation will not matter in the June 11 Special Primary. All candidates are on the same ballot.
- The Special Primary will be by mail only. Ballots will begin to be mailed to military and overseas voters April 27. They must be postmarked June 11.
- You can update your registration after you receive a ballot, but will have to get a new one with your updated address.
- Registration deadline is May 12.
- The top four winners of the Special Primary will be on the Special General Election Ballot on August 16. Voters will rank up to four candidates at that time.
- The winner of the August 16 Special General Election will be sworn-in in September, and will serve in Alaska's only seat in the House of Representatives until January.
- Some of the candidates in the Special Primary also intend to run for this seat for regular term that starts in January, 2023. The deadline to declare as a candidate for that race is June 1. The regular primary is Tuesday, August 16. So there will be candidates on the regular primary ballot on the same day, and possibly on the same piece of paper as Special Election to fill out Don Young’s term.
- Here is the list of candidates for the Special Primary.
- November 8, 2022 is the General Election.
- The last special election was to fill the vacancy of Rep. Nick Begich in 1973. There was a primary and in the general there were two candidates: Emil Notti and Don Young. Young won by 2,000 votes.
This special election will be the first to employ Alaska’s new voting system. It begins with an open primary, with all candidates on the same ballot, regardless of party. Voters pick one. Only one. But how are all those names going to fit on one ballot? Here is Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai.
"We have secured a ballot printer that has an adequate paper supply to be able to do the ballots. The envelopes that are required was the more problematic area, but we have been able to secure a ballot printer who can also print our envelopes and get the ballots packaged and in the mail,” she said.
Oh yes. This election will be entirely by mail. That is also a first for Alaska. The division will start mailing ballots April 27 in order to give military members and other overseas voters enough time to mail them back.
“So we're starting to send them then, but if people have mailing address changes, we have a, we have a process in place to, to, uh, send a replacement ballots to people at a new address while still maintaining the security and, and ensuring that only one ballot is returned back from that voter.”
The registration deadline for the Special Primary is May 12.
Of the 51 candidates, two are brothers, but one said he filed as a joke. Seven are former or current Alaska state legislators. One is in Montana and two are in California. At least one is a felon.
22 aren’t affiliated with a party. 17 are Republicans, seven are Democrats, and three are Libertarians. There is one candidate from the Alaska Independence Party and one from the American Independence Party.
These 13, in alphabetical order, are from the Interior:
56-year old Jay Rolf Armstrong of Fairbanks entered the race as a Republican and a felon. He was convicted in 2017 of threatening to kill Bureau of Land Management employees when he lived in Wiseman.
Brian T. Beal of Fairbanks is running undeclared.
Tim Beck served 12 years on the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly. He is 71 and running as undeclared.
Chris Scott Bye has the endorsement of the Libertarian Party, and also declared he would run for Alaska’s congressional seat before Don Young died.
Santa Claus, is mayor pro-tem of the City of North Pole and has served two-terms on the Council. He is running undeclared, and says he’s an independent, progressive, democratic socialist. He said he would only serve the five months remaining of Don Young’s term, and not run in the regular election.
John B. Coghill of North Pole and Fairbanks served 20 years in the Alaska legislature until he was defeated in the 2020 Republican primary. He is 72.
Bill Hibler is a retired professor who is running undeclared, but has who has run for congress in 2020 as a Democrat. He is a regular contributor of letters to the editor to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. He is 79.
John Wayne Howe of Fairbanks is the only Alaska Independence Party candidate in the Special Primary. He has run for U.S. Senate and Alaska Governor. He has a machine shop and is 63 years old.
David Hughes of North Pole is running undeclared.
Mikel Melander of Fairbanks is running as a Republican.
Silvio Pellegrini of Fort Wainwright is running undeclared.
Jo Woodward of Fairbanks cares about veterans issues. She is running as a Republican.
And Adam Wool has represented Fairbanks in the Alaska House since 2014.
Several interesting components of this race are unlike any other in Alaska’s history.
A smorgasboard of 50 candidates? Fenumiai says in Alaska’s new primary elections, voters pick just one.
“People only vote for one candidate. So we really are trying to stress that out to the electorate. Every race on a primary election is still a vote for one.”
So what about the candidates in California and Montana? How can they run for office in Alaska?
“That is from the United States constitution, which says that they have to be an inhabitant of the state when elected,” she said.
Fenumiai says residency for this office is defined in the US Constitution and states cannot make requirements more restrictive.
Some of the candidates are also running for the seat for regular term that starts in January, 2023. But that election won’t be until November.
Candidates have until noon today to withdraw their candidacy. At least one, Jesse Sumner has said he would, saying he filed as an April fool’s Day joke.