Rep. Lance Pruitt files lawsuit challenging Anchorage election results

House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage, on Monday, May 18, 2020, in Juneau, Alaska. Lawmakers gaveled in for the last few days of their regular session to pass a COVID-19 aid bill. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)
House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage, on Monday, May 18, 2020, in Juneau, Alaska. Lawmakers gaveled in for the last few days of their regular session to pass a COVID-19 aid bill. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

Republican Rep. Lance Pruitt filed a lawsuit this week attempting to overturn the election results of House District 27, in East Anchorage. Democrat Liz Snyder narrowly beat Pruitt in the November election, and a recount last week affirmed her win by 11 votes.

Pruitt’s lawsuit against the state alleges the Alaska Division of Elections failed to properly notify voters after moving the location of an East Anchorage polling station shortly before the election. It also claims there were issues with election security because a state law requiring witness signatures on absentee ballots was suspended.

“Election integrity did not exist for the people of District 27,” Pruitt said.

Pruitt and the attorney on the case, Stacey Stone, said they believe the alleged violations changed the outcome of the race. Reached by text, Snyder said there’s “absolutely no” merit to the allegations and the Division of Elections was doing its job.

“While COVID-19 posed many challenges during the election, including the need for unanticipated polling location changes, the Division did a great job navigating these challenges in a way that complied with Alaska election laws as well as CDC guidelines,” Snyder wrote.

Pruitt said he doesn’t know how the lawsuit is being funded.

“I absolutely have no visibility on where that money is from, who’s paying, any of that kind of stuff. Absolutely nothing to do with that,” he said.

Stone declined to comment on the funding. The Alaska Public Offices Commission said it is possible to use campaign funds on such a legal challenge, either by setting up a legal defense fund or itemizing the expenses in a campaign disclosure form by the next deadline in February. As of Pruitt’s last disclosure in late October, he had less than $4,000 in campaign funds.

A group of individuals filed a separate lawsuit on Wednesday, an appeal challenging the results of last week’s recount. Stone is the attorney on that case too, but Pruitt is not a plaintiff.

Pruitt said if the legal challenges fail, he will honor the outcome of the election.

“I do believe in the rule of law,” he said. “In that sense, you will find me absolutely honoring what the ultimate outcome at the very end comes to, but still willing to recognize that there’s flaws in the system that should be fixed, should be addressed.”

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