State, Office of Lieutenant Governor v. Vote Yes for Alaska’s Fair Share

ELECTION LAW

Madeleine Ayer

In State, Office of Lieutenant Governor v. Vote Yes for Alaska’s Fair Share, 478 P.3d 679 (Alaska 2021), the supreme court held that the lieutenant governor’s summary of a ballot initiative was not true and impartial as required by law, and granted in part the lieutenant governor’s request to insert a proposed replacement sentence to which the initiative sponsors had no objection. (Id. at 682).  Initiative sponsors, Vote Yes for Alaska’s Fair Share, filed suit against the state, challenging the lieutenant governor’s summary of their ballot initiative as untrue and partial. (Id. at 684). The lower court ruled for the sponsors, holding the ballot summary was not true and impartial, and ordered the deletion of a particular sentence in the summary, denying the state’s request to instead revise the sentence. (Id. at 685–86). On appeal, the state argued that the summary was fair and impartial, but requested that, if the supreme court affirmed the lower court, the lieutenant governor be allowed to insert a proposed replacement sentence. (Id. at 682). First, the supreme court affirmed the lower court’s judgment that the summary was not true and impartial. (Id.). While the lieutenant governor is not necessarily excluded from stating an initiative’s legal import in a ballot summary, a ballot summary cannot be misleading or partisan. (Id. at 690). The ballot summary, according to the court, misled voters because it did not disclose disputed or unripe implementation questions that other agencies would resolve; it was speculative and improperly weighed on its interpretation. (Id.). The supreme court declined to conduct pre-election interpretation of the initiative, noting that when an initiative petition meets formal filing requirements, the initiative ordinarily is not subject to interpretation until it is enacted. (Id. at 690–91). Second, the supreme court allowed the lieutenant governor to insert the first portion of the proposed replacement sentence, which was accurate and impartial. (Id. at 693). The lower court did not abuse its discretion by denying the lieutenant governor’s request to revise the sentence. (Id. at 692). Affirming the lower court’s decision, the supreme court held that the lieutenant governor’s summary of the ballot initiative was not true and impartial, and granted in part the lieutenant governor’s request to insert a proposed replacement sentence. (Id. at 693–94).

 

 

 

 

State, Office of Lieutenant Governor v. Vote Yes for Alaska’s Fair Share

ELECTION LAW

Madeleine Ayer

In State, Office of Lieutenant Governor v. Vote Yes for Alaska’s Fair Share, 478 P.3d 679 (Alaska 2021), the supreme court held that the lieutenant governor’s summary of a ballot initiative was not true and impartial as required by law, and granted in part the lieutenant governor’s request to insert a proposed replacement sentence to which the initiative sponsors had no objection. (Id. at 682).  Initiative sponsors, Vote Yes for Alaska’s Fair Share, filed suit against the state, challenging the lieutenant governor’s summary of their ballot initiative as untrue and partial. (Id. at 684). The lower court ruled for the sponsors, holding the ballot summary was not true and impartial, and ordered the deletion of a particular sentence in the summary, denying the state’s request to instead revise the sentence. (Id. at 685–86). On appeal, the state argued that the summary was fair and impartial, but requested that, if the supreme court affirmed the lower court, the lieutenant governor be allowed to insert a proposed replacement sentence. (Id. at 682). First, the supreme court affirmed the lower court’s judgment that the summary was not true and impartial. (Id.). While the lieutenant governor is not necessarily excluded from stating an initiative’s legal import in a ballot summary, a ballot summary cannot be misleading or partisan. (Id. at 690). The ballot summary, according to the court, misled voters because it did not disclose disputed or unripe implementation questions that other agencies would resolve; it was speculative and improperly weighed on its interpretation. (Id.). The supreme court declined to conduct pre-election interpretation of the initiative, noting that when an initiative petition meets formal filing requirements, the initiative ordinarily is not subject to interpretation until it is enacted. (Id. at 690–91). Second, the supreme court allowed the lieutenant governor to insert the first portion of the proposed replacement sentence, which was accurate and impartial. (Id. at 693). The lower court did not abuse its discretion by denying the lieutenant governor’s request to revise the sentence. (Id. at 692). Affirming the lower court’s decision, the supreme court held that the lieutenant governor’s summary of the ballot initiative was not true and impartial, and granted in part the lieutenant governor’s request to insert a proposed replacement sentence. (Id. at 693–94).