ANCHORAGE -

A federal judge weighed in Wednesday on a case that pits Alaska Native voters against the state, stopping a few initial maneuvers from both sides.

Two Native elders and four Native villages are suing the state Division of Elections, claiming it violated the federal Voting Rights Act by not providing voters with materials and accurate translations in Native languages.

U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason denied three requests for summary judgment on Wednesday -- two filed by the state and one filed by the plaintiffs. The case is set to go to trial on June 23.

Gleason shared her interpretation of Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act, saying the Division of Elections is obligated to provide the same opportunity to all voters, regardless of what language they speak.

The plaintiffs allege voters are not being given the proper assistance in the Native languages of Yup'ik and Gwich'in. But Assistant Attorney General Libby Bakalar says the state has an "array" of oral and written language assistance in both languages.

"The state is fully committed to complying with the language assistance provision of the VRA," Bakalar said. "And what Judge Gleason's (Wednesday) ruling did was set out what the parties will need to show at trial to prove that the state is in fact doing that."

While the plaintiffs say there are some places where translations are provided, they claim those translations are either in different dialects or inaccurate. One example attorney James Tucker gave is a ballot measure that asked voters about parental consent for an abortion for a woman under 18. Instead, the translated Yup'ik ballot asked voters to weigh in on parental consent for pregnancy.

"This (lawsuit) is to put them on an equal footing with all other voters," Tucker said. "This is something that, for far too long, the voters from those three regions where our plaintiffs come from have been shut out of the election process for reasons that are beyond their control."

On Tuesday, the Department of Justice filed a statement of interest in the case. The state responded on Wednesday, shortly before Gleason made her decision regarding the summary judgments.