Alaska Senator Mark Begich is standing by statements he made about voting access in Alaska after a state official criticized those remarks.
In his annual address to the Alaska Legislature this week, Begich said he’s concerned about recent trends in the state making voting more difficult, especially for Alaska Natives and other minorities. He said the Parnell Administration has fought against Native language ballots and is seeking to overturn part of the federal Voting Rights Act.
In a letter to Begich on Wednesday, Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai strongly disputed that the state has imposed any obstacles to voting. She also said Alaska is not challenging the section of the Voting Rights Act that mandates a “robust” language assistance program.
Begich Spokeswoman Heather Handyside responded Thursday. In a statement she said the Senator’s remarks “were accurate and reflect the troubling experiences he’s been hearing from many rural Alaskans.” She also called it “sadly ironic” that Fenumiai cited the Voting Rights Act, parts of which the Parnell administration has sought to change or do away with in court.
- A new court case argues that the way in which state juries are selected in Alaska discriminates against rural, Native communities. The case could significantly impact the Delta’s court system if it’s successful.
- When a school closes in rural Alaska, families who stay face tough choices. They can send their children away to school in another village or city, or they can home school their kids. Clark’s Point fought for a third option, to reopen their school. The school, which closed in 2012, will be back in session next week.
- So far no reports of injuries in large fire that continues to burn at large, remote salmon processing plant on the Alaska Peninsula. One dock was cut away, and production facilities heavily damaged according to on-the-ground reports.
- Orutsararmiut Native Council held its first Science and Culture camp in July for high school students. Campers collected juvenile fish, like baby king and red salmon, and participated in activities in avian biology, ethnobotany and workshops on federal and state subsistence management.