Story last updated at 8/29/2012 - 12:45 pm
ANCHORAGE - The State of Alaska has sued U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, challenging federal authority to require approval by the Department of Justice, known as "preclearance," before the state can make any changes in state election laws and procedures.
The complaint contends that the preclearance requirement infringes on the state's sovereignty and hampers its ability to run timely and efficient elections, referencing recent litigation that jeopardized this year's elections.
"We believe in equal rights and do everything we can to help Alaskan voters vote," said Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell. "But doing that job is hindered - not helped - by federal micromanagement."
The preclearance requirement is part of the federal Voting Rights Act. Although all states are subject to the Voting Rights Act, the act singles out a handful of states, including Alaska, and requires them to get prior federal approval to make any changes to their election procedures. The state's lawsuit challenges only this special preclearance requirement.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently suggested that it is unconstitutional for Congress to treat some states differently by requiring them to preclear changes to their election practices, unless Congress has evidence of pervasive voting discrimination in those states. The complaint alleges that Alaska's record simply does not show pervasive voting discrimination that would justify singling out Alaska for this serious intrusion on state sovereignty.
"The Constitution does not authorize the federal government to dictate every detail of our elections," said Geraghty.
For more information on the case, please contact Assistant Attorney General Margaret Paton-Walsh at (907) 269-6612.