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Anchorage Assembly certifies blowsy election, 8-3

Alaska Dispatch

According to numerous sources Friday, on Thursday in a special meeting, the Anchorage Municipal Assembly voted 8-3 to certify the election held on April 3.

Voting to certify were Assembly Chair Ernie Hall, Bill Starr, Debbie Ossiander, Dick Traini, Paul Honeman, Adam Trombley, Chris Birch and Jennifer Johnston. Voting against certification were Elvi Gray-Jackson, Harriet Drummond and Patrick Flynn.

The vote to certify came after testimony from the Election Commission and a legal opinion by attorney Tim Petumenos, who was commissioned by Chairman Hall to examine the Assembly's certification situation. Petumenos' report is separate from one that has yet to be commissioned to investigate widespread reports of problems and disenfranchisement on voting day.

Two citizens were removed from chambers for outbursts related to those voting day reports. The first for expressing outrage that no public testimony would be heard at the Thursday meeting, and the second for accusing Election Commission Chair Gwen Mathew of lying when she told the Assembly there have been no reports of broken seals on electronic voting machines.

KTUU reports that Petumenos told the Assembly that told without "extraordinary circumstances," the city could be sued if the election was not certified in a timely manner.

John Aronno of Alaska Commons notes that three school board seats would not be filled and a host of bond propositions would not proceed without certification.

Petumenos's nine-page report, issued Thursday afternoon, said that the certification could proceed despite a recount application filed this week by 10 Anchorage voters because it wasn't a "contest" of the election, simply a call for recount, and the two are distinct under the law

The opinion advises that "inconvenience to voters is not sufficient" when it comes to the possibility of the assembly refusing to certify the results.  Petumenos says even if there was a targeted, criminal attempt to change the outcome of an election, the Assembly must still certify it, "unless the conduct reasonably had the potential for changing the outcome."

Read more from KTUU, here, from Alaska Commons, here, and a lengthy, in-the-moment transcript of proceedings plus commentary from The Mudflats, here.