Voting Rights Group Weighs In on Anchorage Poll Problems
ANCHORAGE - As Assembly members sort through what happened at the polls April 3, national voting groups say the municipality isn't the only jurisdiction facing electoral troubles.
According to the organization Fair Vote, which pushes for election reform across the country, election difficulties are very common these days. The organization points to places like Connecticut, Miami, and now Anchorage.
Fair Vote's spokesperson says the biggest problem is how ill prepared cities officials are: In Anchorage, the most recent election has been called the city's most chaotic. Critics say what happened on April 3 undermines the democratic process, and they've been complaining.
“I'm as concerned about the ones I’m not hearing from,” said Assembly Chairman Ernie Hall.
In the wake of ballot shortages at dozens of precincts on election night, it's unclear exactly how many did not get the chance to cast one.
“It sounds like a case of, I don't know if incompetence is too strong a word, but it's not having enough money to run an election well,” said Fair Vote's Executive Director Rob Richie.
Richie called it a case of democracy on the cheap, but cited examples across the United States when he said Anchorage wasn't alone.
In Bridgeport, Connecticut there were ballot shortages in 2010. During Maryland's 2006 primaries, doors to polling locations were locked and machines as well as elections workers were missing.
Perhaps the most notorious election to make headlines was the 2000 presidential election in Florida. The 1997 mayoral race in Miami had to be redone because of forged absentee ballots.
“There was direct corruption that was proved in the absentee voting, the voting by mail, in the mayor's race,” Richie said. “It was such a close race that they had to throw out the outcome and have a new race.”
Hall acknowledges there were problems.
“If we were prepared it wouldn't have happened, so there was a deficiency someplace.”
The goal, he says, is not to repeat mistakes for future elections. Hall did not name a third party investigator or attorney to investigate the election at Tuesday’s assembly meeting, but says both will be announced soon so they can quickly begin figuring out what happened.
In the meantime, the Election Commission is expected to finalize its report Wednesday, and the assembly will take up the issue of certifying the election on May 3.