ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Anchorage election officials apologized for widespread ballot shortages in last week’s city elections Monday, saying that the review of more than 6,000 questioned ballots was still in progress.
Municipal Clerk Barbara Gruenstein’s office said in a statement that Tuesday’s shortages were a result of poor distribution, not an insufficient number of ballots being on hand. Nearly half of the city’s precincts -- 55 of 121 -- experienced ballot shortages Tuesday, many of which were reported by Channel 2 viewers and Facebook users.“We apologize to the community,” officials wrote. “We had sufficient ballots, but did not allocate enough of the ballots to the individual precincts, given the turnout and number (of) people who voted outside their precincts.”
The city’s Election Commission is continuing to verify qualifications of the questioned ballots, checking names, addresses and registration dates against the state’s voter register. It’s a process which occurs every election, but is taking longer due to this year’s larger quantities of questioned ballots.
The city’s pool of votes is expected to grow from the 55,000 optically scanned votes on Election Day as more ballots join the final tally. Along with the 6,095 questioned ballots, officials are awaiting 1,433 unscanned ballots, 4,489 absentee in-person ballots cast before Tuesday, 98 faxed votes and any valid votes from mailed ballots and those cast at absentee polling places at UAA and the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.
The Election Commission’s next step is a public canvassing session at City Hall on Friday at 10 a.m. to declare which questioned and absentee ballots will be counted or rejected. Anyone present at the canvass may challenge a questioned or absentee voter’s name, if he or she has good reason to suspect the voter isn’t qualified or the voter’s ballot wasn’t properly cast.