Three weeks after an election marred by ballot shortages at precincts all over town, and a report that at least one ballot machine with a broken security seal was in use, the Anchorage Assembly has not hired an outside investigator to sort through the election mess. New Assembly Chairman Ernie Hall made a sobering announcement about the situation at the opening of Tuesday, April 24, Anchorage Assembly meeting. Hall had planned to—and he said, “hoped to”—announce two names that night. One would lead an investigation of election procedures and the other would provide a second legal opinion on whether election results can be certified. (Municipal Attorney Dennis Wheeler has previously advised the assembly to certify the results. Wheeler is a mayoral appointee whose boss just won re-election—just one of the sticky wickets assembly must navigate.)
“All I can do is ask for your continued patience and assure you that every effort is being made to get these individuals started absolutely as fast as we can,” Hall said. His announcement include a goal, to certify the election at a special assembly meeting Thursday, May 3, which he said also sets a deadline for an outside lawyer’s opinion on certification. “That is one [hire] I am particularly focused on,” Hall said.
Hall also said he had met with some retired judges. Hall’s speech was politic and indicated he had sought advice about the two tasks. He said he wouldn’t make premature announcements about who he had spoken with about the election investigation. “I have had some incredible conversations with some retired judges and I have actually been able to get a better understanding of specifically how we should work this investigations, procedures for it. However, I have not been able to come up with a final name on either one of those yet. The individuals that I am interviewing are the kind of people who are every busy and are very prominent in this community,” Hall said.