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Anchorage Hillside power outage leaves some residents voting by flashlight

Kelly Quisenberry checks in to vote at the Rabbit Creek Elementary polling place with her daughter, Emma, 4, while the power is out in the vicinity. Election workers Steven Chapman, left, and Dick Anderson help them by the light of a lantern and hand out flashlights and headlamps to voters on Tuesday. “You guys are awesome, even in the dark,” Kelly told the workers. (Marc Lester / ADN)

About 1,500 Chugach Electric customers on the Anchorage Hillside were without power Tuesday after a utility pole was found burned and broken in half, according to the company.

The outage extended west to east from the Seward Highway to Elmore Road, and north to south from Huffman Road to De Armoun Road, said Chugach Electric communications manager Julie Hasquet.

Just before 10 p.m., the company said that all customers' power was restored.

Outage update: Repairs are complete and power has been restored too all customers. Thank you for hanging in there with...

Posted by Chugach Electric on Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The outage was reported around 12:50 p.m., Hasquet said.

"Basically they found the pole burned and broken in half," Hasquet said.

"It doesn't look like vandalism, and we'll figure out the cause of the fire later," Hasquet said.

Samantha Miller, a spokeswoman for the state Division of Elections, said all primary election polling places in the area remained open and functioning. She was aware of only one polling location that lost power: Rabbit Creek Elementary.

The power went out at the elementary school around 12:45 p.m., prompting some Alaskans to vote by flashlight, said Dick Anderson, chairman of the precinct.

"Our whole system is set up for power failures," he said in an interview around 4:30 p.m. "We have an electric lantern and a lot of flashlights. … We haven't turned anyone away."

Kelly Quisenberry votes while her daughter, Emma, 4, holds a headlamp at the Rabbit Creek Elementary polling place during a power outage in the vicinity on Tuesday. (Marc Lester / ADN)

Most everything is done on paper, Anderson said. However, voters couldn't scan their ballots through the AccuVote ballot-counting machine for several hours. The machine runs on electricity. Without power, Anderson said, the completed ballots were put into an emergency slot on the side of the ballot box. A battery-powered AccuVote machine was to have been delivered to the precinct, he said, that could be used to count the ballots if the outage persisted.

But, by 5:20 p.m., power to the school was restored, and a handful of people at the polling place cheered.

Photojournalist Marc Lester contributed to this story. 

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