This weekend, the Anchorage Municipal Clerk’s office released updated numbers for the April 2nd Municipal Election, including for the close race in West Anchorage’s District 3. By Saturday evening, Ernie Hall had widened the gap between he and the write-ins, leading by more than 300 votes.
Two things happened over the weekend: question and absentee ballots were run through an AccuVote machine and added to election night totals. That’s where the new numbers came from.
“Friday and running into today we completed the scanning of question and absentee ballots and those are the results that are reflected in the election summary report. They include the question and absentee ballots — absentee in-person, absentee by-mail, absentee by fax along with question ballots that were cast at the precincts on election day,” Anchorage Deputy Clerk of Elections Amanda Moser explained.
In addition, the Clerk’s office conducted a hand-count of West Anchorage’s District 3, where Hall led Moe by just 93 votes on election night.
“Municipal Clerk Barbara Jones: Write in Nick Moe, oval is not marked, no count. Patrick Munson with Moe campaign: Challege (fade under) Jones: Next ballot, it’s write-in Mike Moe, oval colored in, no count, Munson: challenge.”
That’s Municipal Clerk Barbara Jones reading through ballots during the hand count and Moe’s Attorney Patrick Munson challenging her decision to throw the vote out. Due the votes scanned through the machine, Ernie Hall now has 4,296 and there are 3,878 write-in votes. Hall now has a 318 vote lead. Exactly how many of those write-in votes belong to write-in candidate Moe won’t be known until the clerk’s office releases the results of the hand count, what you heard earlier, sometime early this week. During the hand count, election workers divided the ballots into several categories. The category that the Moe campaign in most interested in is this one.
“There was instances were a write-in candidate was written and no oval marked and those came out as challenges within the review today. And so none of this information shows up in the election summary report,” Moser said..
In other words they weren’t counted. The situation harkens back to the Lisa Murkowski’s write in campaign. In 2010, an Alaska Supreme Court decision said that voters had to mark the oval in some fashion in order for a vote to count. Besides the oval not being filled in there were misspellings of Moe’s name, among other anomalies that Municipal Attorney Dennis Wheeler advised the clerk’s office would not be accepted. How many challenged ballots there are could determine whether the Moe campaign decides to pursue a legal challenge. Regardless of how things turn out, Moe says he’s proud of what his campaign has accomplished in such a short period of time.
“I still think this campaign made history — one of the most successful write-in campaigns in our city’s election history. You know, I’m very proud of what we were able to accomplish,” Moe said.
Moe jumped into the race just two weeks before the election. He says he was motivated to run by Assembly Chair Ernie Hall’s handling of a rewrite of Anchorage labor law and the Assembly’s decision to end public testimony on the issue before everyone had a chance to speak. But, regardless of the final outcome of the race, Moe says he hopes Anchorage leaders are listening to the message the public sent them on April 2.
“The public deserves to be listened to. And whether it’s in the Assembly Chambers or at the Ballot Box and everybody’s voice should be heard and every vote should be counted,” Moe said.
Moe says his campaign is doing an analysis of the challenged ballots and will soon decide what their next steps may be. Results from the hand count conducted Saturday are set to be released by the clerk’s office early this week. the Election results could be certified at Tuesday’s Assembly meeting. Ernie Hall was contacted for this story, but did not return phone calls by deadline.