Nearly half of Anchorage’s polling places ran out of ballots, causing some voters to be sent to other polling places and vote questioned ballots. Last week, the ACLU of Alaska requested numerous election records from the city and distributed affidavits from several people -- including election officials -- who said ballot shortages and temporary ballot-box closures had disenfranchised voters.
During a special Assembly work session Friday, Gruenstein and Deputy Clerk Jacqueline Duke were put in the hot seat about the availability of ballots at different precincts, as well as thousands of ballots in reserve at the Loussac Library that were never distributed.
Gray-Jackson said Monday that the community has reacted strongly in emails, with some calling for Gruenstein's firing.
“People are adamant: ‘Fire the clerk, fire the deputy clerk,’” Gray-Jackson said. “They're angry.”
Assembly Chair Debbie Ossiander tells Channel 2 that Gruenstein’s election performance could play into her employment evaluation, while other members await an independent investigation of the elections -- a proposal rejected by the Assembly at its Tuesday meeting as premature, but backed by Gruenstein in a Friday letter to the Assembly (PDF).
“She is absolutely entitled to process on this, and not just people calling up and say, ‘Fire the clerk,’” said the Assembly’s vice-chair, Ernie Hall. “There's not much doubt in my mind we're going to have a third-party investigation (of the election).”
“I don't want to see anyone get fired,” Gray-Jackson said. “But let's see what the independent investigation holds before we make any decisions.”
Hall says a vote on an investigation will likely be decided at the Assembly’s April 24 meeting, after the body has time to review the city Election Commission’s recommendations.
The commission is still canvassing the election, and expected to complete that process by the end of this week. No decisions are likely to be made about firing city employees over the elections before the Assembly has time to review complete information about them.
“It’s imperative for us to find out what caused the issues we had with the election this year,” Hall said, “(and) make absolutely sure that it doesn't happen again.”
Editor's note: This story has been revised after a clarification from Elvi Gray-Jackson that not all of the emails received by city officials have called for Barbara Gruenstein's firing.
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