A recall committee filed an application to remove the governor, alleging that he’s abused his power, neglected his duties, and is unfit for office. The Alaska Division of Elections had denied the application, stating that it wasn’t legally or factually sufficient.
The committee challenged the division’s decision in Superior Court in Anchorage, which ruled the recall application was valid. The state appealed the ruling to the Alaska Supreme Court, which decided that the allegations in the recall petition “are legally sufficient and satisfy the particularity requirement.”
Dunleavy, a Republican, has 17 months remaining in his term.
Whether Dunleavy’s detractors have made their case that his alleged shortcomings—that he is incompetent and corrupt—justify his removal from office is up to the voters, the court said.
“The people asked to sign petitions must decide whether the allegations are serious enough to warrant a recall election; each voter in the voting booth must decide whether the allegations are serious enough to warrant removal from office,” the court opinion reads.
Dunleavy blasted the decision in a statement released on July 16.
“The Alaska Supreme Court today issued an opinion that creates a standardless recall process, subjecting elected officials at every level, and across the political spectrum, to baseless, expensive, and distracting recall elections by their political opponents,” the governor said, according to Alaska Daily News.
“The court has made it clear that even plainly false allegations of wrongdoing can trigger this process, undermining our election process, and prevents our elected officials from focusing on the many serious issues facing Alaskans.”
To qualify a gubernatorial recall for the Alaska ballot, campaigners must satisfy a two-phase test, gathering petition signatures totaling 10 percent of votes cast in the previous statewide election and, subsequently, gathering signatures totaling 25 percent of the votes cast. The Recall Dunleavy campaign reported that it had 81 percent of the required second-phase signatures as of April.
Reuters contributed to this report.