Mad dashes between polling places in search of ballots, a voting machine that didn’t work and a frustrated voter who threw up her hands and went home highlight three real-life accounts of the chaotic April 3 election, according to affidavits collected by the American Civil Liberties Union. The stories are just an initial sample of what went wrong on April 3, said Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of ACLU Alaska. The group is working on confirming another 160 more complaints regarding disenfranchisement and systemic difficulties at the polls, Mittman said in an April 10 letter to the Anchorage Assembly. One of the disenfranchised was Rhonda Matthews, who works in the Federal Aviation Administration’s traffic and quality control office. She tried voting at Klatt Elementary School a little after 7 p.m., according to her affidavit. But there were no ballots. Go to other polling places, including one at the Alaska Club on O’Malley, she was told. When she got there, polling employees said she couldn’t vote at that site — without saying why. Go to the airport, they told her. She had 15 minutes before polls closed, and gave up when she realized she wouldn’t make it to the airport in time. “I decided to go home from the Alaska Club and was not able to vote.”
At East Anchorage United Methodist Church, poll Chair Collin Smith made four calls for additional ballots as his supply shrank. When the site ran out of ballots a little before 6:30 p.m., he was told to send voters to the University of Alaska Anchorage. On top of that, the ballot machine was stubborn, accepting some ballots, rejecting others. “When it would not accept the ballot upside down, right side up, backwards or forwards, I shook it until the jam was cleared, and it accepted the ballot. This particular problem occurred more frequently than in prior elections and was very frustrating to the voters who were affected,” Smith said, adding that hacked-off voters yelled at him for running out of ballots.