Alaska Court: Anchorage Democrat qualified for House seat

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A divided Alaska Supreme Court ruled Friday that an Anchorage Democrat who won a race for State House was a qualified candidate.

Earlier this week, Superior Court Judge Herman Walker Jr. issued a ruling finding that Democrat Jennifer “Jennie” Armstrong met the residency requirements and accepting the November election results. Her decision was appealed by Republican Liz Vazquez, who lost to Armstrong, and four others who had joined her in challenging Armstrong’s victory.

A brief order from the state Supreme Court, shortly after hearing arguments in the case on Friday, simply said, “We affirm the Superior Court’s ultimate finding that Ms. Armstrong was a qualified candidate as required. the law. A full decision will follow.

Three judges heard the case: Chief Justice Daniel Winfree and Justices Jennifer Henderson and Susan Carney. Carney dissented, writing that she would reverse Walker’s conclusion that Armstrong was qualified.

Vazquez’s lawsuit alleged that Armstrong had not been a resident of Alaska for at least three years immediately prior to filing his application and therefore Armstrong was not qualified for the position.

Under the state constitution, to serve in the legislature one must be a “qualified voter who has resided in Alaska for at least three years and in the district from which he was elected for at least one year, immediately preceding his Deposit application”. The deadline for filing was June 1.

Attorneys for Vazquez and the other plaintiffs in court documents said the evidence supports the claim that Armstrong’s residency did not begin until at least June 8, 2019. Vazquez’s attorney, Stacey Stone, made similar arguments on Friday.

The lawsuit had highlighted things like a social media post, fishing license applications and the date Armstrong registered to vote.

“Although Armstrong may subjectively believe she became an Alaska resident when she ‘showed up, put her head down and decided’ on May 20, 2019, the objective evidence says otherwise,” wrote Stone and the other plaintiffs’ attorneys in court. documents.

Armstrong said she moved to Alaska on May 20, 2019. She said that was when she and her husband talked and decided she would move in with him in Anchorage. She testified that her social media posts were not always contemporary and that a 2022 fishing license application tracing her residence to May 2019 was more accurate than previous applications.

Walker, in his ruling, said he discovered Armstrong became a resident on May 20, 2019, based on the evidence provided to him. He said state law allowed a resident to temporarily leave Alaska and retain residency as long as they intended to return. He said Armstrong left for prior engagements on May 20, 2019 and returned on June 8, 2019.

He said he found her absence from May 20, 2019 to be temporary and that she “maintained her intention to return while she was gone”.

Becky Bohrer, L’Associated Press

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