From Erika Bolstad in Anchorage –
UPDATE: A judge has given the state Division of Elections and Sen. Lisa Murkowski's campaign until noon Tuesday to submit written briefs outlining why the state should be allowed to continue showing voters who ask for it a list of registered write-in candidates. The Alaska Democratic Party and the Alaska Republican Party have until 4:30 p.m. to respond. The judge is expected to issue an opinion by 9 a.m. Wednesday.
Alaska's Democratic and Republican parties may not agree on much, but they do appear to both be of the opinion that Sen. Lisa Murkowski's write-in campaign could hurt their own candidates' chances at the polls.
The two political parties joined forces today to sue the state Division of Elections for providing a list of write-in candidates to voters who ask for one -- a move both parties say deviates from past election practices. (Read the lawsuit here.)
Democrats initiated the complaint after a voter at an early voting location in Homer reported seeing a list of write-in candidates posted inside a polling booth. Republicans decided they, too, wanted to join the complaint, which will be heard this afternoon in front of judge.
In an act of rare cooperation, Republican Party lawyer, Kenneth Kirk, contacted Tom Daniel, the lawyer for the Democratic Party.
Both parties say the lists, which have been provided to polling places statewide, are a considerable change in the state's standard election practices. They've not gotten a good answer as to why they're being used, Daniel said.
"Fundamentally, there's no authorization under Alaska law for poll workers to provide information about the write-in candidates inside the voting booth," Daniel said.
"So far as we know, they've never done this before."
In a press conference before the hearing, Alaska Democratic Party Chairwoman Patti Higgins said it opens a door to providing murky so-called "help" to voters, including pointing them in the direction of one candidate or another.
"I think it's in all the voters' best interest to have a fair and legal election," Higgins said. "If you can't trust in that, then everything is in doubt."
Alaska Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich called it a "flawed decision" to provide the lists, and one that "threatens the integrity of the election process and the legitimacy of every candidate elected."
(We originally posted a shorter story by the AP. Read it, with many reader comments, here.)