Voters in a West Anchorage assembly race might be facing some bubble trouble. Starting Saturday, city officials will begin hand counting more than 7,000 votes cast in last Tuesday’s municipal election after concerns that some ovals marked correctly, according to municipal code, might not have been counted. At least that’s what the campaign of Nick Moe, the 26-year-old write-in candidate, is saying. Moe challenged incumbent Anchorage Assembly chairman Ernie Hall after Hall cut off testimony on a controversial ordinance designed to limit the power labor unions that do work for the city. On Monday, Moe’s campaign requested that Anchorage conduct a hand count of ballots in Assembly District 3, Seat D. That came after the city released a statement saying it would not perform a hand count unless the total number of write-in votes cast were equal to or more than the amount of votes for the leading candidate. The same release noted that there may be “other circumstances” where the votes would be hand-counted.
Hall, the leading candidate, has only 93 votes more than the number of write-ins — and presumably most of those belong to Moe.
The issue at hand is voter disenfranchisement, Moe said. He said there’s concern that the computer systems that read the votes are incapable of doing that unless the oval is completely filled in.
The municipal code is generous when it comes to how ballots should be marked. The use of cross-marks, “X” marks, diagonal, horizontal or vertical marks, solid marks, stars, circles, asterisks, checks or plus signs are all acceptable as long as they clearly indicate the oval or the square the voter desires.
But whether the machines tallying the votes are capable of reading marks that don’t completely fill the bubble is unclear.
“The bubble is an interesting thing,” Moe said. “Really, what purpose does the bubble serve? It’s not an arbitrator of voter intent.”