ANCHORAGE, Alaska — An Alaska judge has ruled that a state lawmaker affiliated with the Oath Keepers may stay on the general election ballot in November even though he’s likely ineligible to hold public office.
According to the Anchorage Daily news, Judge Jack McKenna had ordered election officials to delay certifying that race’s result until December, so the Anchorage News reported.
This would allow elections officials to exclude state Rep. David Eastman from the ranked choice voting tabulation process if the trial finds him ineligible, meaning votes cast for him would go to the voters’ next-highest choices.
Former Matanuska-Susitna Assembly member Randall Kowalke filed a lawsuit arguing the Republican lawmaker’s membership in the Oath Keepers runs afoul of the Alaska Constitution’s disloyalty clause. A person advocating for the overthrow or demise of the U.S. state government is prohibited from holding public office here.
Oath Keepers leader and others have been charged with seditious conspiration in connection to the attack on the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 6, 2021.
Eastman claimed that he was at a Washington, D.C. rally for the outgoing President Donald Trump. He has denied that he participated in the riot. Eastman is not being charged with any crime.
McKenna stated that based on the evidence presented Kowalke would likely succeed at arguing that Eastman was a member the Oath Keepers. The group is active and seeking to overthrow U.S. government.
But, McKenna said, “the court emphasizes that this analysis is based upon a limited record and after the testimony of no witnesses, and it does not represent a final decision in this case.”
Instead of ordering Eastman’s name off the ballot, McKenna ordered that election officials delay their certification of election results for House District 27 in Wasilla until after the December trial finishes.
The Division of Elections’ target date for certifying all other election results is Nov. 29, three weeks after the Nov. 8 general election.
Eastman could be seated in the House of Representatives in January if he wins the election and he’s found eligible to hold public office. But if he wins re-election and is ineligible to hold public office, the Alaska Division of Elections would exclude Eastman from the ranked choice voting tabulation process and his votes would go to voters’ next-highest choices.
Kowalke said he was “thrilled” by the compromise and that the judge had found a “really balanced, beautiful solution.”
Eastman’s attorney, Joe Miller, did not respond to calls and a text message seeking a request for comment.
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