Assembly Chair Refuses Call for Outside Election Investigator

Voters are still waiting to find out why there was a shortage of ballots during the April 3rd Anchorage Municipal Election. The Assembly has refused an outside investigator and is set to take up the matter as soon as the Clerk’s office and the Election Commission finish their reports.

Anchorage Assembly Chair, Debbie Ossiander says it’s too early to appoint an outside investigator to look into the Anchorage ballot debacle. The ACLU of Alaska made the request for an outside investigator Thursday, after widespread ballot shortages and reports that voters were turned away at the polls during Tuesday’s Municipal Election.

“The Clerk’s office and the election commission have been asked particularly this time to be very thorough and accurate, looking not only at the overall results but at the precinct-by-precinct results. Once we get that report, then the matter will be before the assembly. It seems premature to bring in any kind of an outside investigator when the body that is supposed to do the work hasn’t completed their work yet.”

The election commission is made up of six people appointed by the Mayor to oversee the election. Although the assembly is waiting to take up the matter, Ossiander says she’s already gathering information to help the assembly decide what to do.

“I’ve asked the municipal Attorney to investigate what are the implications for an election if people are denied the ability to vote. I wanted him to tell me what it takes to trigger requiring an election to be thrown out and a new election to occur. So he’s been working on that.  I have another discussion with both the municipal attorney and the assembly attorney to try to understand what are the parameters that allow the assembly to call a special election.”

The ACLU of Alaska has not commented on the commission, but they say the clerk should not be involved in the investigation and they say since the Municipal Attorney serves at the pleasure of the mayor, he also should not be involved. The matter will go before the Assembly once the clerk’s office and commission finish their reports. Ossiander says it’s unlikely that will be by Tuesday’s regular Assembly meeting and says she could call a special meeting to address the issue.