Voters are still waiting to find out why there was a shortage of ballots during the April 3rd Anchorage Municipal Election. The Assembly has refused an outside investigator and is set to take up the matter as soon as the Clerk’s office and the Election Commission finish their reports. Anchorage Assembly Chair, Debbie Ossiander says it’s too early to appoint an outside investigator to look into the Anchorage ballot debacle. The ACLU of Alaska made the request for an outside investigator Thursday, after widespread ballot shortages and reports that voters were turned away at the polls during Tuesday’s Municipal Election.
A roiling round of election second-guessing ramped up Wednesday as the Anchorage Municipal Clerk’s office tried to determine how a mayoral election in which 27 percent of the registered voters showed up could have resulted in widespread ballot shortages, and others tried to understand why sentiment on a controversial ballot measure flip-flopped less than a week before the vote. While allegations of disenfranchisement grew louder, with anecdotes of voters being turned away at the polls, some things appeared certain — including results of the mayoral election. Although contender Paul Honeman isn’t conceding yet, incumbent Mayor Dan Sullivan — who led by a whopping 21 percent with nearly all precincts reporting — declared victory. “I’m concerned, like everybody, that some voters may have been disenfranchised, but the margin is significant enough that I think I can declare victory,” Sullivan said at a press conference. He appeared to be one of the few happy voters out there.
A city review of this week’s Anchorage election shows that nearly half of the 121 voting precincts ran out of preprinted ballots at some point. Late Friday, the city clerk’s office said it had finished a preliminary review of all the precincts. It found that 55 of the 121 experienced ballot shortages in Tuesday’s election. In addition, nearly 6,100 questioned ballots were cast, compared with about 1,000 in last year’s election. Most of the questioned ballots were cast before ballot shortages occurred. Questioned ballots are issued if a voter lacks identification, is not on the registry, has moved within the past 30 days or is voting in a place other than a home precinct. The clerk’s office says more than 1,400 additional unscanned ballots were cast. In those cases, the voter signed the register, but used a ballot that could not be scanned by machine. Those are not questioned ballots.
The Anchorage city clerks office is calling the voter turn out in yesterday’s election “unprecedented.” The office is investigating the election, working today to figure out which voting precincts ran out of ballots. Voters reported widespread ballot shortages. Mayor Dan Sullivan was reelected by a wide margin. But his main challenger Paul Honeman, is not conceding given the voting irregularities. It’s Clerk Barbara Gruenstiens 9th time running Anchorgage Municipal Elections, and she says she’s never seen anything like what happened Tuesday.
“We heard that there was somebody spreading information that you could show up at any precinct and register to vote that day and vote that day and your vote would count, and that’s incorrect information.”
In fact, you had to register 30 days before voting day to have your vote count. That somebody who spread mis-information, according to multiple reports is Jim Minnery with the anti-proposition group, “Protect Your Rights.” Minnery sent out a last minute email urging unregistered voters to swamp polling places and vote against the Anchorage Equal Rights Initiative. Minnery says he got bad information from the municipal clerks office.
Alaska: Consultant Redrawn election district map doesn’t meet federal standards | Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
The map adopted by the Alaska Redistricting Board as a starting point in its Alaska Supreme Court-ordered redrawing of the state’s election districts likely won’t comply with the federal Voting Rights Act, according to the board’s consultant, Lisa Handley. Handley, who helped the board draw its original plan that was later rejected by the Supreme Court, did an overnight analysis of the plan adopted by the board on Tuesday. She said the federal Voting Rights Act would require the plan to have one additional House seat and one additional Senate seat effectively controlled by Alaska Native voters. The board adopted an initial plan Tuesday afternoon that it felt complied with the Alaska Constitution.
After just two days of work, the Alaska Redistricting Board has adopted a new election district plan that members believe complies with the state constitution. The adoption of the new plan is the first step to comply with an order from the Alaska Supreme Court, which earlier this month found the board hadn’t followed the proper process in drawing its original plan. The court sent the board back to the drawing table to follow guidelines laid out by its 1992 ruling in an earlier election redistricting case, Hickel vs. Southeast Conference. The “Hickel process” requires the board to first draw a plan that complies with the constitution before making changes for the federal Voting Rights Act. Most changes in the new plan affect Fairbanks and rural districts. Anchorage, Southcentral, Southeast and the North Slope are untouched from the board’s original plan. That’s because the lawsuit that led to the redrawing only focused on districts with constitutional complaints, said Taylor Bickford, the board’s executive director.
The Alaska Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the state’s new political boundaries be redrawn with greater deference to the Alaska Constitution. The decision comes just one day after the court heard arguments in the case. The court, in its decision, commends the Alaska Redistricting Board for its work, saying the record shows the board tried to weigh competing constitutional and statutory provisions. But it pointed to an earlier case, in which the court found that while compliance with a federal voting rights law takes precedence over compliance with the state constitution, the voting law need not be elevated in such a way that the requirements of the constitution are unnecessarily compromised.
Despite the appointment of an impartial third party investigator, debate over the recent election of North Slope Borough mayor continues with lawyers dueling over the release of election information, police records and who should investigate allegations of vote-buying.
After allegedly losing his bid for the borough mayor seat by 62 votes, George Ahmaogak filed a contest of the election, citing numerous vote-count inconsistencies as well as questions of vote-buying and proper care for ballots in transit. The borough certified the election, despite the contest, but appointed attorney Dennis E. “Skip” Cook to investigate the matter for the borough as an impartial third party. But progress in the case has been stalled by borough staff holiday vacations as well as other issues.
Failed Senate candidate Joe Miller must reimburse Alaska more than $17,000 in legal fees and costs incurred during his fight to overturn Lisa Murkowski’s write-in victory, a state judge ruled on Friday.
Miller, a Tea Party favorite, beat the more moderate Murkowski in the Republican primary. But she then mounted a write-in candidacy in the general election and beat him by about 4.5 percentage points.
Miller sued to overturn the results, arguing that elections officials improperly counted write-in ballots, but was rejected by a Superior Court judge, a ruling that was upheld at the state Supreme Court.
Alaska’s governor has signed into law a bill allowing the state to use discretion in counting write-in ballots. The law, set to take effect in August, is the result of last year’s U.S. Senate race. That race was ultimately decided in the courts.
A measure that makes it clear a voter’s intent takes precedence when casting a write-in vote has passed the Legislature and now goes to the governor for signature. Senate Bill 31, sponsored by Sen. Joe Thomas of Fairbanks, grew out of the 2010 U.S. Senate race. Fairbanks attorney Joe Miller beat incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski…
Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell is recommending dozens of changes to state election law following last year’s disputed write-in election battle for a U.S. Senate seat. None of the changes to election law or regulations would have changed the outcome, Treadwell said, and many conform Alaska election law to existing court rulings that guided the outcome…