Just when everyone thought the messiest chapter in recent Anchorage voting history was closed, Municipal Leaders confirm that they have found more than 100 uncounted ballots leftover from the flawed April 3 Municipal election. Officials say Clerk’s Office staff discovered the uncounted ballots in a storage closet in the Assembly Conference room on the first floor of City Hall last Wednesday. And where could so many ballots disappear? A staff member who city officials didn’t want to name showed me. “Staff: This is the door to the room inside the Assembly Conference Room. Daysha: And this is basically just a corner room about the size of a large walk-in closet, right? Staff: Correct, with windows. Daysha: Where exactly were the ballots? Staff: On the tables in black bags.”
Inside those bags, officials discovered 141 uncounted sample ballots from three precincts that were cast during the April 3 election. They say all the election materials were stored in that room. Anchorage Assembly Chair Ernie Hall chose to hold off on informing the media about the find until Friday evening, he says, to better assess the magnitude of the situation. “There’s just been too many mistakes in this election, and I didn’t want this to be handled in a manner that it became another mistake,” Hall said.
The ballots were discovered just as the municipality was getting out from under the shadow of one of the messiest elections in its history. Attorney Dan Hensley, a retired Alaska Superior Court judge, issued a report earlier this month laying the blame on bad management by then Clerk Barbara Gruenstein and an inexperienced Deputy Clerk, Jacqueline Duke. He also faulted the Anchorage Assembly for a lack of oversight of the Clerk’s Office. Before the report was filed, the clerk resigned and the deputy clerk was fired. Hall says the ballots were found during transfer to a more secure vault in the Clerk’s Office.