Two Days After the City Election There Are Still Unanswered Questions
ACLU is looking into election issues
ANCHORAGE – Days after the chaotic city election, there are still more questions than answers about what caused a shortage of ballots. The city clerk’s office said 140,000 ballots were printed and even though Tuesday’s turnout was less than half of that, polling places still ran out.
City clerks said they supplied the polling sites with the number of ballots they thought they would need and kept the rest at City Hall. When precincts started running low they delivered more, but by that time many voters had left.
The Alaska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been looking into the election and what went wrong.
By Thursday afternoon a hotline, set up to report voting complaints, had received over 100 calls. ACLU director Jeffrey Mittman said he believes the city tried to run a fair election, but somewhere something went wrong.
“At this point we need to know what happened,” said Mittman. “Before any decision is made as to whether or not action is required we have to have facts and we don't have those yet.”
According to Mittman, the best way to get those answers would be to appoint an independent special counsel to investigate the election and he has already requested the city do so.
The city clerk said they did run out of ballots in some precincts, but not all. She also said the number of questioned ballots that need to be verified and counted by hand has been extremely high.
By the end of the day, Thursday, election officials had reviewed about half the city’s precincts and found 3,000 questioned ballots. Clerks said that number is almost three times as high as all the questioned ballots from last year’s election.
In addition to question ballots, there are close to 8,000 early ballots that have yet to be tallied. It’s possible that when all the votes are counted it could influence the election outcomes.
Both the city and ACLU said a new election is possible, but that decision won’t be made until all of the facts are in.