The Anchorage Assembly heard emotional public testimony at their regular meeting Tuesday evening. Representatives of the Anchorage chapters of the NAACP and the ACLU, as well as 17 voters called on the body to appoint an independent investigator to look into possible voter disenfranchisement during the April 3 Municipal Election. Instead, the Assembly went about business as usual.
With a shadow still hanging over the Municipal Election, the Anchorage Assembly decided to stick to their agenda, appointing a new chair and vice chair. The body voted Ernie Hall in as chair, replacing Debbie Ossiander, and Jennifer Johnston replaced Hall as Vice Chair. Chair Hall said the Assembly’s hands are tied because they’re waiting on a report from the Election Commission.
“We would have loved to have had that report tonight, but we think it is much more important that we give them the time to do their job right,” Hall said.
The Commission completed the ‘Election Canvas’ Tuesday, which sets the number of question and absentee ballots to be counted at 13,435. It’s been two weeks now since polling places ran out of ballots, forcing some voters to race from precinct to precinct trying to vote. Some voters report they were turned away until polls closed and never got to cast their vote. But nobody knows exactly how many voters were unable to vote. Jeffrey Mittman, the Executive Director of the ACLU of Alaska, says the longer the Assembly waits, the more difficult an investigation will be.
“The longer we delay the more memory fades. The less records are available, the less documents are available. We should have begun this process already. I’m remaining cautiously optimistic. But there was really no reason not to have moved forward tonight,” Mittman said.
The commission’s report is expected to be presented to the assembly at their next regular meeting on April 24.
The Clerk’s Office is still gathering data from people who were unable to vote because of the ballot shortage. To make a report, email email@example.com, and include your full name, and the number, name or location of the precincts involved, as well as your phone number.