The Muni played favorites with ballot distribution (Anchorage 2012 election)
by Linda Kellen Biegel | originally posted at The Mudflats
Analysis of official Municipality of Anchorage reports from the botched April 3 municipal election by Jeanne Friedman show vast differences in how ballots were distributed to precincts on Election Day, with some precincts receiving enough ballots for only 16 percent of their registered voters, and others receiving enough for 70 to 101 percent of their registered voters. The figures raise the possibility of intentional disenfranchisement of voters in some precincts.
Jeanne Friedman is a member of the Recount Observation Team. Linda Kellen Biegel, a blogger with The Mudflats, is also, along with Bent Alaska editor Melissa Green, a member of the 10-voter Recount Group which sought and observed a hand recount of 15 precincts from the botched election. Among other questions in the election was the apparent defeat of Proposition 5, the Anchorage Equal Rights Initiative, which had it passed would have provided equal protection from discrimination under Anchorage’s equal rights code to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender residents and visitors.
In last week’s installment of the Municipality of Anchorage’s continuing 2012 Election debacle, new Municipal Clerk Barbara Jones made a disturbing find while attempting to (quite literally) clean up the old Municipal Clerk’s mess…141 unaccounted-for ballots.
This has led the trusty Election Commission to meet this coming Thursday and review the ballots they missed the first two times around.
While all of that has been going on, members of our Recount Observation Team have continued to research and slowly pursue the auditing process the Municipality has refused to provide.
…and it’s been free of charge…
The latest bombshell was discovered by dogged number-cruncher Jeanne Friedman. She (like the rest of us) was disgusted that the Muni’s multiple reports on the blank ballots distributed to each precinct did not add up. Discrepancies occurred in the vast majority of precincts and sometimes to the tune of hundreds of ballots in a single precinct.
Her Comparison of Official Municipal Election Reports shows these discrepancies and by themselves they are disturbing. However, what she discovered by accident was downright infuriating.
The Municipality “played favorites” on how they distributed blank ballots to each precinct.
According to Title 28, Anchorage’s Election Code, the City must have the number of ballots on hand equal to 70% of all registered voters. However, as we learned from former Muni Clerk Office employees Jacqueline Duke and Barbara Gruenstein, they don’t take all 70% out to the precincts. They take “enough” for the election and then keep the rest at City Hall.
As Jeanne Friedman discovered while researching her report, “enough” is quite subjective.
If you look at the report and compare it to the 2009 election turnout, (the last mayoral election), it’s clear that the Clerk’s Office did refer to that election when calculating ballot distrubution for many precincts. However, the margins were frequently so razor-thin it was ridiculous. For example, Precinct 335 (St. Innocent Cathedral), Precinct 340 (Mtn. View Elementary) and Precinct 345 (Mtn. View Boys & Girls Club) were all given less than 16% of their voter registration. While the numbers were based on past voting, it was an extremely thin margin considering the contentious nature of this election and all three of those precincts ran out of ballots. The story is the same with most of the precincts that ran out…ballots were provided sometimes within as low as one or two percent of the 2009 election turnout and they weren’t enough.
That’s what makes the exceptions so notable.
For example, Precinct 525 (Shiloh) received about double the percentage of ballots compared to their 2009 turnout in stark contrast to most of the other precincts:
525 Shiloh Baptist Church — 2009 Turnout: 17.34% — Ballots Rec’d 2012: 34.8%
However, there were some precincts that were clear favorites of the Municipality. I’ve listed them below (including their 2009 voter turnout).
530 Anch Sq Round Dance Ctr. — 2009 Turnout: 35.54% — Ballots Rec’d 2012: 63.2%
845 Abbott Loop Comm. Church — 2009 Turnout: 37.14% — Ballots Rec’d 2012: 71.7/74.9%*
850 New Grace Christian Church — 2009 Turnout: 42.46% – Ballots Rec’d 2012: 70.2%
930 Amazing Grace Lutheran Church — 2009 Turnout: 40.02% — Ballots Rec’d 2012: 75.9%
935 O’Malley Elementary School — 2009 Turnout: 40.00% — Ballots Rec’d 2012: 80.8%
940 Bear Valley Elemen School — 2009 Turnout: 36.93% – Ballots Rec’d 2012: 96.1%
955 Seventh Day Adventist Church — 2009 Turnout: 39.63% — Ballots Rec’d 2012: 63.7%
965 Goldenview Middle School — 2009 Turnout: 34.09% – Ballots Rec’d 2012: 52.5/61.4%*
980 Valley Bible Chalet — 2009 Turnout: 37.55% — Ballots Rec’d 2012: 101.6%
985 Chapel By the Sea — 2009 Turnout: 40.27% — Ballots Rec’d 2012: 73.8/75.8%*
990 Fire Station No. 14 — 2009 Turnout: 51.30% – Ballots Rec’d 2012: 69.6%
*(The dual totals reflect conflicting numbers from two reports. Either number supports the point being made here.)
The fact that some precincts were guaranteed not to run out of ballots while others went into election day in serious danger of doing so gives us evidence we haven’t had until now: disenfranchisement with possible intent.
How serious is this? Take a look at the precincts that were given a cushion of ballots compared to those who were not. Could a case be made for Alaska Native disenfranchisement?
The Assembly is meeting tonight and they all have a copy of this report. Please let them know why you are fed up and demand that they act!
Email the entire Assembly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Note: Starting this Thursday at 10:00 am, the Anchorage Election Commission will convene to review the “141 potentially uncounted ballots” at City Hall, 632 W 6th Ave, Rm #155. A canvass of the ballots will be held Thursday, August 2, 2012 starting at 6:00 pm at the same location.
The public is invited to both events so please attend and demand answers from the Election Commission.
Above: Jeanne Friedman, Carolyn Ramsey, and Linda Kellen Biegel deliver the Recount Group’s report to an Anchorage Assembly work session, 15 Jun 2012. Photo by Melissa S. Green.
See also Bent Alaska’s stories on the 2012 Anchorage municipal election.
- 18 Apr 2009. Statement of Votes Cast, 2009 Municipality of Anchorage Regular Election, April 7, 2009. Municipal Clerk’s Office, Municipality of Anchorage.
- 13 Apr 2012. Draft Ballot Accountability. Municipal Clerk’s Office, Municipality of Anchorage.
- 10 May 2012. “The Hand Count of Botched Anchorage Election Doesn’t Follow Code” by Jeanne Devon (The Mudflats).
- 24 May 2012. “Election Recertified, Muni Clerk Resigns” by Linda Kellen Biegel (The Mudflats).
- 17 Jul 2012. “Uncounted Ballots: A New Can Of Worms” by Linda Kellen Biegel (The Mudflats). Reposted at Bent Alaska.
- 22 Jul 2012. Comparison of Official Municipal Election Reports by Jeanne Friedman. Emailed to Anchorage Assembly 22 Jul 2012.
- 22 Jul 2012. “Muni Played Favorites With Ballots” by Linda Kellen Biegel (The Mudlfats).