Commission Outlines Electoral Troubles, Rejects Calls for Outside Investigation
ANCHORAGE - The chair of the Anchorage Assembly said an independent investigator will still be hired to look into the April 3 municipal election, even though the Election Commission said the investigator isn't necessary.
Assembly Chair Ernie Hall said he and all members of the assembly agree that more investigation is needed into why so many polling stations ran out of ballots on April 3.
The name of the independent investigator has still not been released and has not started his or her work, leaving many questions remaining, including whether the Anchorage Assembly will have the information it needs to certify the election when it meets on May 3.
No investigation needed and no new election
– that's the finding of the Anchorage Election Commission.
It says 33 voters were unable to cast their ballots in the April 3 municipal election.
The Municipal Clerk, who oversees elections, says there are probably more people who didn't come forward.
"I'm sure the number is higher than that but we helped them we sent out information that they would be able to meet with people," said Municipal Clerk Barbara Gruenstein.
The report shows 65 polling stations out of 121 ran out of ballots for some period of time, and says these shortages were the unintended error on the part of the clerk's office.
Some voters question this finding.
"The election is the most important part of the clerk's job; to have as many oversights, as the Election Commission prefers to call them, a number of oversights, it doesn't seem natural, it doesn't seem normal," said voter Pam Tesche.
Municipal Clerk Gruinstein said her office failed.
"I think the clerk's office failed in this election, we did not get the right number of the right kind of ballots in the right places, and we are going to work very hard that that never happens again," said Gruenstein.
The American Civil Liberties Union says there was gross negligence on behalf of whoever was responsible in the clerk's office for sending out ballots, and the Anchorage Assembly should hold them accountable.
The clerk's office says it is updating manuals so election workers know what to do in the event of another ballot shortage.
"It will be in the manual and training next year, all the trouble shooters will be very well versed on what to do but hopefully I mean it will not happen again we will have sufficient ballots out there" said Gruenstein.
Even though 33 people were unable to vote, the report says the ballot shortage did not meet the standards of misconduct, fraud, or reckless indifference on the part of anyone involved.
The Election Commission made nine recommendations altogether, which include that the Municipal Clerk take a more active role in planning the election, even though that's already the job of the clerk.
The other recommendations refer mainly to the increased training of election workers.
The assembly is scheduled to certify the election during a special meeting on May 3. Read the full commission report here.