Supreme Court lifts stay on recall petitions

Alaska Supreme Court judges have lifted a stay on the Jan. 10 superior court decision and ordered the Division of Elections to print and distribute signature petition booklets in support of the recall of Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

“Happy Valentine’s Day to Alaska,” said Meda DeWitt chair of Recall Dunleavy, as the supreme court decision was announced Feb. 14 in Anchorage. “Petition booklets will soon be distributed across Alaska, and all qualified registered Alaskan voters can make their plan to sign again and bring two friends.”

Thus, on Valentine’s Day began Phase 2 of the recall effort to gather over 71,000 signatures.

A news release from the recall movement noted that the Alaska Supreme Court order said in part, “the statues governing recall elections impose certain deadlines apparently intended to ensure an expedited process.”

“It typically takes seven days to print the booklets, and then we will be sending them out across the state to people who have been trained as signature gatherers and we will be off to the races again,” said Claire Pywell, campaign manager. “We will need to collect 71,252 signatures. We had requested an expedited schedule for briefing and a listing of the stay on the booklets. We’re going to collect those signatures, and fast.”

According to Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai, it will take about a week to print the 12,000 petition booklets. That’s enough for signature gatherers to collect more than the required number of signatures, in the event that some of those signing are not registered to vote in Alaska.

The superior court said in its decision that it concluded that to allow the signature-gathering to proceed pending appeal could result in voter confusion if the supreme court reverses or modifies its judgement, and that such confusion could not easily be remedied and constituted irreparable harm, and that the state and Stand Tall for Mike raise a serious issue on appeal.

The supreme court said that the superior court did not expressly consider the harm to Recall Dunleavy resulting from a stay, and as a result the superior court appeared to have applied an incorrect analysis.

“The loss of several months of signature-gathering in this process is at least a ‘not inconsiderable’ injury,” the supreme court said.