There seems to be little agreement among Anchorage Assembly members when it comes to how it should investigate this week's blunder during the Anchorage election, when dozens of polling places reported running out of ballots.
Assembly Chair Debbie Ossiander says the city's Election Commission -- which is appointed by the mayor and approved by the Assembly -- should look into why the precints ran out of ballots.
Assembly member Dick Traini says the Assembly's own election committee -- made up of Assembly members -- should investigate.
The ACLU of Alaska has said the Assembly should appoint an independent special counsel to look into everything, and there's even the option of holding a redo election.
Meanwhile, Anchorage election officials completed a preliminary review of all 121 precincts in Tuesday’s city elections Friday afternoon, producing a total of more than 6,000 questioned ballots. Voters would fill out a questioned ballot if they didn't appear on the voter rolls at the place they voted. That could be because they voted at a different polling place than they were assigned, in which case their vote would count. But if they were improperly registered, their vote would be thrown out.
According to Municipal Clerk Barbara Gruenstein, 6,095 questioned ballots were cast citywide, versus 1,060 in last year’s election. A total of 4,929 questioned ballots were cast prior to widespread ballot shortages reported across town Tuesday evening, with 1,166 more cast after that point.
An additional 1,433 unscanned ballots -- cast by voters who signed the voter register, but unable to be scanned by the city’s AccuVote ballot-scanning machines -- were discovered in the review. Election officials say unscanned ballots include photocopied ballots and sample ballots which were used when precincts ran out of official ballots.
More than half of the city’s polling places, 66 of 121 locations, did not report ballot shortages.
The city Election Commission will be verifying the qualifications of questioned ballot voters Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in City Hall’s Room 105. It is open to the public.
Gruenstein’s office still wants to hear from people who tried to vote Tuesday but were unable to due to ballot shortages. Anyone who did so should email city officials at firstname.lastname@example.org with their full name and the number, name or location of the precinct(s) involved, as well as an optional phone number to be contacted at.
Email Jason Lamb