Just over two weeks after a statewide launch, the official effort to recall Gov. Mike Dunleavy has met its first signature collecting goal.
The recall process in Alaska is broken down into three steps, the first of which requires the collected signatures of 10% of the number of voters in the last general election. Based on 2018 election numbers, the organization needed to collect 28,501 signatures. As of Thursday afternoon, the group reported having collected 29,577, more than 1,000 more than needed.
Aaron Welterlen, lead Fairbanks volunteer coordinator for the recall effort, celebrated the achievement.
"The Recall Dunleavy events in the Fairbanks area over the second week of the recall effort turned in incredible numbers. More than 5,000 — over 8% of the registered voters in the Fairbanks North Star Borough — from all political parties signed our petitions," Welterlen said. "Since our initial kickoff event, multiple other events have been held in the borough, each equally impressive in turnout and enthusiasm."
According to the Thursday press release, the group plans to continue collecting signatures through Sept. 2 to make up for signatures that may be disqualified and to allow more Alaskans the opportunity to sign. After that the group will turn over the collected signatures, as well as a 200-word legal brief outlining alleged reasons for recall, to the courts.
If the courts approve the brief and verify the signatures, the group will then be required to collect signatures from 25% of the number of voters in the last general election, or 71,253.
State law designates only a few legal grounds upon which a public official can be recalled: lack of fitness, incompetence, neglect of duties and corruption.
According to Meda DeWitt, chair of the recall effort, the group is going with the first three.
Specifically, the group points to Dunleavy's failure to appoint a judge within a statutory time frame and the use of his veto power to reduce funding for the courts after a ruling on abortion funding with which he disagreed.
Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/FDNMPolitics.