Conservative voter guides created by Anchorage-based Christian group Alaska Family Action Inc. were reported to have appeared inside voting booths in at least two Fairbanks precinct locations Tuesday, breaking borough and state election law and concerning precinct workers.
Susan McInnis, co-chair of the Steese East precinct for the past seven years, told the Daily News-Miner she found booklets in booths at her precinct Tuesday instructing voters how to vote.
"This afternoon, for the first time ever, I found a slick 8-page ‘voter guide’ in two adjacent booths," McInnis wrote in an email to the Daily News-Miner. "We check the booths frequently to make sure the black ink voting pens haven’t wandered off. The pens wander frequently. Never, ever, have I seen partisan voter ‘info’ in a booth. Until today."
McInnis added that an hour later, Rachel Hanft, chair of the Steese West precinct, reported finding the booklets in booths are her location as well.
The booklets rate candidates for Fairbanks city mayor, City Council, Borough Assembly and school board on a series of value issues, including whether candidates support onsite consumption of cannabis at licensed facilities within city limits, whether candidates support an ordinance that would require individuals to use the bathroom that matches their biological sex assigned at birth, whether candidates supported the anti-discrimination law vetoed by Fairbanks city Mayor Jim Matherly in February and whether candidates support a policy that would restrict borough funds from being used to pay for abortions or subsidizing groups that perform or promote abortion.
The guide also identified which candidates were endorsed by Planned Parenthood.
Fairbanks North Star Borough campaign and election law states that no visible election material is to be displayed within 200 feet of any entrance of a voting precinct, according to Borough Clerk April Trickey.
State law outlines the same rules, said Fairbanks Division of Elections Regional Director Jeremy Johnson.
Trickey said Wednesday morning she had been made aware of the booklets at the two Steese precincts but had not yet heard any reports from other precincts.
It's unclear whether the booklets were placed there by accident or intentionally, Trickey said.
"Sometimes people will bring in a copy of a sample ballot or a list of candidate names to remind them how to vote," she said.
Trickey noted that a list or sample ballot must be out of sight going into the booth and coming out of the booth and not be visible by any other voter. Voters are prohibited from wearing candidate or ballot issue buttons, shirts or other signage.
"What we do is we instruct all of our election workers that campaigning is prohibited within 200 feet of any entrance, but we also caution throughout the day to go through your booths and make sure nothing is left," Trickey said.
Trickey noted there are posted signs at each precinct instructing election workers and voters of these rules.
Regardless of intention, Trickey said, there's not much to be done now.
"It's hard to know who actually left these in the booth. There's no way for us to go back and say who. Were they done intentionally? I don't know," she said.
Alaska Family Action Inc. is run by Anchorage family values advocate Jim Minnery, who has been vocal in Anchorage and Fairbanks advocating for religious freedom and against LGBTQ rights.
In an interview with KUAC, Matherly cited support from Alaska Family Action Inc. as one of the central reasons for his recent unofficial victory in his race for re-election.
Alaska Family Action Inc. did not respond to a request for comment on the matter.
Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.