Confusion at the polls: Which party’s candidates can you vote for?
A mix-up at the polls in South Anchorage almost kept one woman from voting the way she wanted in the state primary Tuesday.
Melissa Falcone, a registered nonpartisan voter, was told by election staff at Ocean View Elementary School that she couldn’t have a Republican ballot, even though the rules say she can. Anyone can vote Democrat in the primary, but the Republican party only allows its own members, undeclared or nonpartisan voters to weigh in on its candidates.
“It was very frustrating,” Falcone said. “It didn’t seem malicious, or on purpose, it just seemed like they weren’t really informed about it.”
Falcone was eventually given the Republican ballot and allowed to vote, but she said she wasn’t the only one initially turned away.
“I walk into the booth to vote and I hear them say, ‘well what about the other guy?’ And apparently the gentleman before me, I don’t know what he was registered as, but they had done the same thing,” she said. “They had asked him to vote on the Democrat ballot essentially.”
The Division of Elections confirmed it was a staff member’s error. Carol Thompson, absentee and petition manager at the Region II office in Anchorage, said there may have been one or two other cases at the same polling location. Thompson described election volunteer training as extensive.
“Election officials usually attend a four- to six-hour training session prior to election day,” Thompson said. “There’s always a little bit of confusion with the voters, as well as with some of our chair people, learning the process, you know, some chair people are new.”
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