Absentee ballot lawsuit will not be heard before election

A roll of "I voted" stickers with the blue alaska flag nexxt to secrecy folders
Secrecy folders for ballots and “I Voted” stickers at a polling place in the State Office Building for early and absentee voting, Aug. 15, 2016. (Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A federal appeals court will not hear an Alaska absentee ballot lawsuit before the Nov. 3 general election.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request Tuesday for an emergency order ahead of the election.

The decision likely eliminates the possibility a judge will require the state to send absentee ballot request forms to all voters before November, which was the goal of the lawsuit by the Disability Law Center of Alaska and other plaintiffs.

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Alaska voters must request absentee ballots to vote by mail. The state provides an online application form.

The state sent paper forms to Alaska residents 65 and older, but the lawsuit alleges failing to send applications to all registered voters during the COVID-19 pandemic is discriminatory.

Earlier in the month, U.S. District Court Judge Joshua Kindred denied a request by the Disability Law Center to compel Republican Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer to send the ballot applications to all Alaska voters.

Sam Gottstein, an attorney representing the Disability Law Center, said the plaintiffs are considering what the ruling means for the appeal.

“We disagree with the decision and believe all Alaskans should be given an equal opportunity to vote absentee,” Gottstein said.

The state Division of Elections plans to email a reminder about the online form to all Alaska residents registered with MyAlaska, the service used for Permanent Fund dividend applications.

A third-party group, the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Voter Information, plans to mail paper forms to Alaska voters.