Elections division turns aside Obama nomination challenge

The state Division of Elections has turned down a challenge of President Barack Obama’s qualifications to be on the election ballot in Alaska. The challenge was filed by a Juneau resident who says the Democratic candidate is not qualified to run for re-election because he’s of mixed race.


It’s not a lawsuit filed in any court. Actually, it’s what’s called a nomination petition objection that was filed directly with the Division of Elections.

Division director Gail Fenumiai referred the objection to election attorneys within the Department of Law for further review.

“This is first time that we’ve received something like this,” says Fenumiai.

Gordon Warren Epperly is a retired bus driver in Juneau. He challenges Barack Obama’s qualifications to be on the ballot during Alaska’s presidential primary and general election. He says that Orly Taitz and others who’ve challenged Obama’s qualifications of being a ‘natural born citizen’ because of an alleged birth outside of the country went at it all wrong. He says there is no real requirement for a candidate to produce a birth certificate.

Epperly declined to talk on tape for this story. But in his filing he references the infamous Dred Scott decision which he says has never been overturned by the Supreme Court. He says Negros or Mulattos (he pronounces it mull-EYE-ttos) were not eligible to be citizens until the Fourteen Amendment was ratified in 1868. Even then, what Epperly calls ‘purported’ ratification of the amendment only allowed for civil rights, not political rights that allowed them and their descendants to hold federal office.

“That was the distinction that white supremacists in the South after the Civil War used in order to create the system of segregation that took root by the turn of the century,” says David Noon, associate professor of history at the University of Alaska-Southeast. He says Epperly’s assertion hinges on a very dubious reading of citizenship law.

“They argued that it was perfectly constitutional for states to take extraordinary measures to deny blacks the right to vote and serve office,” says Noon.

Noon’s specialty is race relations, identity, and politics in American History. He says calling into question the legitimacy of the Fourteenth Amendment, as ratified by post-Civil War readmitted states, is also a familiar idea of white supremacists.

“Those state governments didn’t have any legitimacy because they did things like abolish slavery or they created civil rights law that explicitly gave African-Americans and freed people all the rights that white citizens enjoyed in those states,” says Noon as he recounted their arguments.

Epperly confirms that under the same logic, women should not have been allowed to run for federal office since the Nineteenth Amendment was passed in 1920. In fact, he also challenged Lisa Murkowski’s run for U.S. Senate in 2010.

Epperly says he’s got some calls and has been called a racist. He also admits a few mistakes in the filing. One was including the term ‘mulatto’ to describe Obama’s mixed-race heritage. He says he didn’t know it was a derogatory term. He also says he wrote an apology for any disruption caused at the Division of Elections. Another mistake was noting his residence as a very popular horse farm in the Juneau area. But Epperly says he’s not the owner or operator. He’s simply an in-law that lives in a nearby building. The farm’s actual owners have disavowed any association with Epperly’s filing.

The filing has virtually been ignored by the mainstream media. Although, some left-leaning blogs and news sites, and other satirical websites that mock the news have already highlighted it.

Elections director Gail Fenumiai says they really don’t have any jurisdiction or governance over the way the candidates are selected at the national level. There is no presidential primary election in Alaska. And, the state cannot intervene in each party’s selection process for national executive office following party conventions.

“The past history of the Division (of Elections) is to accept the form that comes from the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee as submitted.”

As long as that Certification of Nomination arrives this summer, then the currently-presumed candidates of Barack Obama and Joe Biden will appear on this November’s ballot in Alaska.