Story last updated at 4:13 p.m. Thursday, July 25, 2002

Former candidate upset over missed deadline
By Mark Kelsey
Staff Writer

Area voters thinking next month's primary would be a two-man race for the state House seat may find a third name on the ballot when they go to the polls Aug. 27.

Former Republican candidate Pete Roberts missed the July 10 deadline for officially withdrawing from the race. Consequently, his name is still slated to be listed on the ballot.

Roberts said he missed the deadline because of bad information he received from the Division of Elections in Juneau, which he said told him his paperwork only had to be postmarked by July 10.

"You would think that for a critical date like that, you could call their office and find out," Roberts said.

Division Director Janet Kowalski said she apologizes if he received the wrong information from someone in her office. But she said the filing rules and deadline are explained in the information packet each candidate receives.

"I have a lot of sympathy for (Pete)," she said. "But there's two places where it clearly says in writing that the information must be received by July 10."

Roberts does not dispute the contention, but he countered that public interest is at stake and that the deadline should be secondary.

"For a first-time candidate, it's almost impossible to meet every single provision. I have no doubt (that the correct information was in the packet). But they bury you in stuff," he said. "Government gives itself extensions all the time. Why can't a regular citizen get a deadline extended for something in the public interest? The real issue here is what is best for the voting public."

Roberts, who threw his support to Paul Seaton, the challenger to incumbent Rep. Drew Scalzi, said what is best for voters is a ballot that accurately reflects the race. People who aren't aware of his withdrawal might vote for him out of dislike for Seaton and Scalzi, he said, adding that there may be more to the issue than simple administrative rule-following.

"There is the possibility of political manipulation. If (my name) is on the ballot, it does give some advantage to the incumbent," he said. "Everything about this, except the deadline, says you should take my name off the ballot."

Roberts said he now wants to get an injunction to stop the faulty ballots from being printed. He is currently trying to find an attorney who will take the case for no charge.

Kowalski said the matter is an issue of fairness.

"We just can't start messing with the deadline," she said. "If I can take someone off when they're late, why can't I put someone on if they're late?"