High Tensions, Low Turnout Mark Election Commission Special Meeting
Local lawmakers and citizen commission members begin their review of controversial April election
After a few hours had passed, Assembly Chair Ernie Hall strolled into the theater, hands tucked into his pockets, and said he came to check in on the meeting’s progress. Moving around the room between the tables, he spoke briefly with each commission member. Besides their report, he said he was prepared to appoint an independent investigator to conduct a separate review.
Hall said he had already tapped a former judge for the position, and would make the announcement next week. While the Election Commission is in the process of examining exactly what caused the ballot shortages and voter frustration over the course of election, he said the independent review would cover the relationship between the commission and the Municipal Clerk’s office.
When it came to certifying the controversial election, a milestone already delayed by nearly a week, he said he was preparing to appoint a private attorney to prepare yet another legal opinion. The third and fourth-party input would provide an extra level of surety to any election decisions, said.
“I want to make sure the commission is comfortable,” Hall said. “Not just the government telling them what to do.”
Besides the independent reviews, the Assembly chairman said voters could also expect changes to Anchorage’s election laws to ensure history wouldn’t repeat itself when it came to the most recent races. Next time, he said he also suggested the commission hold the canvass on a weekend. Maybe more voters would have been able to attend if the canvass wasn’t scheduled smack in the middle of a work day, he said.
While the fallout from the election was time consuming and tension-filled, he said he was confident in the path things had taken.
“It’s really working the way it should work,” he said.
Sitting in the third-to-last row of the theater, a woman with gray hair and wire-framed glasses sat bent over a stack of handwritten notes. She had been there since the meeting began, but had spent the first few hours observing and collecting her electoral thoughts.
“I wrote three pages, now I’m doing a summary,” she told a silver-haired man sitting next to her.
“I’ve been thinking about this so much, I already summarized it long ago,” he replied.
A second public commission meeting is scheduled for April 23 at 4 p.m.