Anchorage election: Former election coordinator calls for full handcount; voters file for handcount & audit
Former municipal election coordinator Guadalupe Marroquin calls for a full hand count of every precinct’s ballots from the the April 3 Municipal election; and an application for a hand count of 15 precincts and full audit of the election has been been filed with the Municipal Clerk. The Anchorage Assembly meets today (Thursday, May 3) at 5 PM in the Loussac Library on whether to certify the election.
Former Anchorage Municipal Election Coordinator Guadalupe Marroquin recently wrote an open letter to members of the Anchorage Assembly regarding the botched April 3 Anchorage Municipal election. Her letter (edited for length) also ran as a Compass piece in the Anchorage Daily News. Below is the full unedited text of her original letter (also posted last night at The Mudflats).
Marroquin joins former Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller in expressing the seriousness with which we should regard all issues of election integrity — and puts to rest any notion that investigating the integrity of this election is a partisan issue.
Joining both Marroquin and Miller is a group of 10 Anchorage voters who have filed a recount application and public records request for a physical hand recount of paper ballots from 15 precincts and a full audit of the election. The 10 voters — Hal Gazaway, Barbara Gazaway, Joseph McKinnon, Zobia Kennedy, Dana Klein, Wendy Isbell, Steven McCoy, Melissa S. Green, Kelly Walters, and Linda Kellen Biegel — raised amongst themselves $1,500 for the 15 precincts at $100 per precinct. As noted in a Mudflats story earlier today,
Obviously a full audit and hand recount of all precincts is the most desirable result, and it should be noted that the Assembly CAN and SHOULD mandate this even without this request.
Further details below.
Open letter to Anchorage Assembly from Guadalupe Marroquin
Dear Members of the Anchorage Assembly,
The recent shortage of available ballots at voting precincts was the result of intentional failed planning, judgment, and execution on the part of the Municipal Clerk’s Office. After the ballot shortage situation was discovered on Election Day between 1:30pm – 5:00pm, there was an opportunity to respond. Up to 20 personnel (12 Troubleshooters & 8 in-house staff, according to the Clerk’s testimony during the Friday work-session) were available and on stand-by to distribute additional ballots from the 60,000+ ballots stored in the Clerk’s vault at City Hall to the 65 precincts in need – this was not carried out. The Clerk’s office was unable to neither manage the initial election nor execute a recovery; and, as a result, an unknown and unknowable number of people were disenfranchised.
Common sense dictates that each voting location begin the day with sufficient ballots plus an extra 10 – 20% based upon an analysis of past voting records, the number of registered voters per precinct, the anticipated turnout due to high profile ballot issues and the high turnout associated with most mayoral races.
The intent must be to never turn voters away at the polls or otherwise disenfranchise them. Plan, analyze, and distribute more ballots than needed at every precinct. The planning should always aim for and prepare for high voter turnout, as well as anticipate a response to slight shortages. This is how every election has been run in Anchorage history. An election worker stated in the news that during training the Deputy Clerk announced there would be fewer ballots distributed this year compared to previous elections. Her statement demonstrated a clear and deliberate plan to short the precincts. This was not an oversight; the shortage of ballots was intentional. This is unacceptable.
This event opened up a Pandora’s box, publicly revealing our recently weakened ballot testing practices (2010), our on-site election disaster planning, among other unknowns – that now question what affects our results, and more. This will also open the door to examining ballot testing requirement changes made by Alaska Statute that now affect the Municipality of Anchorage. This is an opportunity to clean up all of these critical issues before both the November 2012 and next MOA elections.
Furthermore, it doesn’t matter how many people were actually able to take the time and speak to the election commission to prove whether or not this is a problem – all that matters is that they showed up on Election Day.
Having your right to vote taken away from you IS a very serious problem that cannot be marginalized and swept under the rug. Hundreds of emails and many personal accounts are demonstrative of a serious issue. The people that testify and speak out usually represent a mere fraction of those affected. It’s one thing to “hear of” people who were turned away at the polls; it’s quite another to have several of my own personal friends speak to me about their experience of traveling to four or more precincts in a vain effort to cast their vote.
In addition, the Election Commission is not an investigative body of experts, they are just election workers who volunteered to be on the commission to follow a very short, specific set of code to determine what absentee & question ballots are counted. Since they are experienced election workers (some not so much) they do make suggestions that might improve the process. There are no prerequisites to serve on the election commission other than to be a registered voter and have poll worker experience. They are not knowledgeable or experienced enough about the entire process to make judgments. Since they work under the direct supervision of the Clerk, they cannot be objective. Based upon reports I have heard and read, the entire encounter seemed more like a one to one therapy session. In addition, Ms. Duke should not have been present to oversee this process. Her presence as the defensive person in power interfered with a process where citizens were sharing their personal perspectives and should have been allowed to speak freely.
Most importantly, any board or commission conducting an accountability review should not able to audit themselves – this is an obvious and complete conflict of interest.
Ballot programming integrity is also a serious concern. In 2010, the Municipal Clerk’s office removed the most important test group, the Data Processing Review Board. This group was made of IT professionals, who hand marked test ballots to intentionally challenge ballot programming for every race in every precinct, monitored the elections and then performed hand counts of 8 precincts on election night to compare totals to the AVOS. The loss of this critically important part of the process, removed by the Municipal Clerk’s office; combined with the 2012 Election’s careless and negligent treatment of an inordinate number of security seals protecting the AVOS memory cards, results in questionable ballot count totals.
It is my opinion that the only way to salvage and certify the 2012 election results, after all that has happened, is to perform a full hand count of every precinct’s ballots.
It’s taken me some time to write this email. I have been inspired by the many who stood up and told their stories. You, as members of the Assembly, must recognize how intimidating your position makes you to the average citizens of our city; and I appreciate that in this meaningful public discussion that we can all come together for our common concern, our right to vote. We need to thank our voters for coming forward and understand their experience. My track record running the MOA elections is well known and trusted. The manner in which Election 2012 was run – was completely unacceptable.
I am available for questions and would like the opportunity to make recommendations in order to restore trust in our elections.
former Deputy Clerk, Election Coordinator/Budget Liaison, 2003–2009
Interview with Guadalupe Marroquin
On April 19, Steve Aufrecht of the blog What Do I Know? posted a 20-minute video interview with former deputy municipal clerk Marroquin. Among the topics Marroquin addressed was the importance of the security seals and other measures intended to guarantee the security and integrity of the election and the elimination in 2010 of the Data Processing Review Board. Watch:
Recount application[caption id="attachment_8089" align="alignright" width="264" caption="Accu-Vote memory cards (front & back): Security breach in the election"][/caption]
The recount and application filed under Anchorage Municipal Code (AMC) 28.90.10 calls for an audit and physical hand recount of paper ballots from the April 3, 2012 municipal election, specifying —
This would entail NO USE of optical-scan voting machines as the integrity of their vote count cannot be verified due to the following reasons….
— with several reasons cited, all coming out of reports and testimony since April 3 related to the security — or, rather, its lack — of the Diebold AccuVote voting system and memory cards used in the election. The Anchorage Assembly could nevertheless decide that a recount should be done using the machines, essentially having a security-compromised system audit itself. For this reason, the recount application specifically states that the application for a recount is rescinded if the condition for a hand recount is not met.
However, the application also includes a public record request under AMC 39.90.060 of election materials including spoiled and blank ballots, poll tapes, precinct rosters and voter index lists, absentee ballot requests, and more. See the actual application for complete information.
The reason only 15 precincts were included in the application for a hand recount is that the applicant had to pay a deposit up-front of $100 per precinct, and only had time to raised $1,500 among themselves. If the results of a race or proposition change by more than 4 percent, or the winner of a race or proposition changes, the city must refund the deposit.
The 15 precincts included were:
- 215 Guening Middle School
- 220 Eagle River Lions Club
- 235 Mt. Spurr Elementary
- 240 Fire Lake Elementary School
- 340 Mountain View Elementary School
- 445 East High School
- 550 MOA Public Works Permit Ctr.
- 610 Northwood Elementary School
- 625 Steller Secondary School
- 660 Spenard Recreation Center
- 670 Anchorage Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
- 675 Romig Middle School
- 830 Hanshew Middle School
- 840 Service High School
- 925 Huffman Elementary School
The applicant group included Hal Gazaway, Barbara Gazaway, Joseph McKinnon, Zobia Kennedy, Dana Klein, Wendy Isbell, Steven McCoy, Melissa S. Green, Kelly Walters, and Linda S. Kellen (Linda Kellen Biegel). Hal Gazaway was designated as chairperson of the group; Linda S. Kellen and Melissa S. Green were designated to represent the group at the recount. (Disclosure: Linda S. Kellen (Biegel) writes for the blog The Mudflats, and Melissa S. Green is editor and contributor at Bent Alaska.)
According to The Mudflats:
How this will affect the scheduled vote to certify the election by the Anchorage Assembly tonight is uncertain. Some local observers maintain that the language in Title 28 will make it impossible for the Assembly to certify until after the recount is completed.
KTUU Channel 2 reported:
Assembly chair Ernie Hall was on a flight late Wednesday night, and could not be reached for comment, but past assembly chair Debbie Ossiander said the assembly may have to file an investigatory response to the recount application, which could affect its scheduled certification of the election on Thursday at 5 p.m.
Anchorage Assembly meeting on certification of election
The Anchorage Assembly meets tonight (Thursday, May 3) at 5 PM in the Assembly Chambers located in the Loussac Library on whether to certify the election.
- 19 Apr 2012. “Guadalupe Marroquin, Former Anchorage Election Chief, Talks About The Election” by Steve Aufrecht (What Do I Know?). Includes a 20-minute video interview with Marroquin’s observations about how the election was handled.
- 1 May 2012. “Mudflats Exclusive: Joe Miller Calls for Unity and Right of Citizens to Hand Count of Municipal Election” (The Mudflats).
- 2 May 2012.” Election fiasco wasn’t an accident —COMPASS: Other points of view” by Guadalupe Marroquin (Anchorage Daily News).
- 2 May 2012. “Former Anchorage Election Coordinator Calls for Full Hand Count of Paper Ballots” by Guadalupe Marroquin (The Mudflats).
- 2 May 2012. Recount Application requesting an audit and physical hand recount for 15 precincts of paper ballots from the April 3, 2012 Anchorage municipal election. Filed with the Municipal Clerk’s office, Municipality of Anchorage.
- 3 May 2012. “Voters File for Anchorage Election Recount: Move Could Delay Election Certification” by Jason Lamb (KTUU Channel 2 News).
- 3 May 2012. “Voters File for Hand Recount of Anchorage Municipal Election” by Jeanne Devon (The Mudflats).