The recent shortage of available ballots at voting precincts in Anchorage was the result of intentional failed planning, judgment, and execution on the part of the municipal clerk's office.
After the ballot shortage situation was discovered Election Day between 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m., there was an opportunity to respond. Up to 20 personnel (12 troubleshooters and eight in-house staff, according to the clerk's testimony during the April 27 work session) were available and on standby to distribute additional ballots to the 65 precincts in need from the 60,000-plus ballots stored at City Hall.
This was not carried out. The clerk's office was unable to manage the initial election or execute a recovery, and, as a result, an unknowable number of people were disenfranchised.
Common sense dictates that each voting location begin the day with sufficient ballots plus an extra 10 to 20 percent based upon an analysis of past voting records, the number of registered voters per precinct, the anticipated turnout due to high profile ballot issues and the high turnout associated with most mayoral races.
The intent must be to never turn voters away at the polls or otherwise disenfranchise them. Plan, analyze, and distribute more ballots than needed at every precinct. Always aim for and prepare for high voter turnout, and anticipate a response to slight shortages. This is how every election has been run in Anchorage history.
During training this year, the deputy clerk announced there would be fewer ballots distributed this year. This was not an oversight; it was a clear, intentional and deliberate plan. This is unacceptable.
This event opened up a Pandora's box, publicly revealing our recently weakened ballot testing practices (2010), our on-site election disaster planning, among other unknowns. These have called our election results into question. Now we have an opportunity to clean up all of these critical issues before both the November 2012 and next MOA elections with the help of an independent investigation.
The Election Commission is not an investigative body of experts. Prerequisites to serve are: be a registered voter and have poll worker experience. Commissioners follow a very short, specific set of code to determine what absentee and questioned ballots are counted. As election workers, they do make suggestions that might improve the process. As subordinates of the clerk, they cannot objectively judge the clerk's performance, nor audit themselves. Their recommendation against an independent investigation shows a complete lack of understanding and a glaring conflict of interest.
Furthermore, it doesn't matter how many people were actually able to take additional time and speak directly to the Election Commission at its public forums. All that matters is that they showed up on Election Day.
Taking away one's right to vote is a very serious problem that cannot be marginalized and swept under the rug. Hundreds of emails and many personal accounts are demonstrative of a serious issue.
Ballot programming integrity is also a serious concern. In 2010, the municipal clerk's office removed the most important test group, the Data Processing Review Board. This group was made of information technology professionals, who hand marked test ballots to intentionally challenge ballot programming for every race in every precinct, monitored the elections and then performed hand counts of eight precincts on election night to compare totals to the Accuvote.
The loss of this critically important part of the process, combined with the 2012 election's careless and negligent treatment of security seals protecting the Accuvote memory cards, justify great concern.
It's my opinion that the only way to salvage and certify the 2012 election results, after all that has happened, is to perform a full hand count of every precinct's ballots.
It's taken me some time to write. I'm inspired by the many who've told their stories. I appreciate that in this meaningful public discussion we can all come together for our common concern, our right to vote. My track record running the MOA elections is well known and trusted. The manner in which Election 2012 was run was completely unacceptable.
Guadalupe Marroquin served as deputy municipal clerk in charge of Anchorage elections from 2003-2009.