A report from attorney Dan Hensley blames former Municipal Clerk Barbara Gruenstein's "hands off management strategy" for several of the problems in the April 3 Anchorage election in which more than half of the city's polling places ran out of ballots.
Hensley says Gruenstein delegated many election-related tasks to other employees without providing much supervision. The report says that Gruenstein "had not participated in any meaningful way in election planning or execution for several years," and that lack of oversight allowed several "systemic" problems to build, resulting in the ballot shortages and other election problems in April.
Hensley pinned part of the ballot shortage problem on deputy city clerk Jacqueline Duke, who Hensley said based her decisions on how to distribute the ballots on her "limited experience" running elections in just two prior years -- 2010 and 2011.
Hensley says because of a controversial gay rights proposition, and because it was a mayoral election year, Duke should have prepared for a high voter turnout. But Hensley says Duke "did not consider these factors carefully" when deciding how to allocate ballots across the several voting locations, leading to "inevitable" ballot shortages.
Hensley says he was not able to figure out how many voters didn't vote because of the ballot shortages and long waits facing voters at some precincts.
The report says several precincts were concerned about running out of ballots beginning at 2:00 p.m. on election day, but because no one at the clerks office realized that the ballot shortage issue was affecting precincts all over town, nothing was done to prevent shortages in other precincts.
The nine-page report recommends that election workers be better trained on how to handle ballot shortages in the future, and that the Anchorage Assembly, that oversees the clerk's office, should consider periodic reviews of its staff.
Hensley said he found no evidence of any city employee or election worker trying to deliberately influence the outcome of the election, which featured a mayoral race and a controversial gay rights proposition on the ballot.
The report also concludes that an email sent out by the group opposing the gay rights proposition incorrectly informed voters that they could register to vote on election day and have their vote count in the election. Hensley said that email encouraged about 200 more people to head to the polls, putting a strain on the ballot shortage, but not causing it.
Hensley concluded that staffing levels are adequate in the six-person clerk's office, and that no additional election supervisors need to be hired if the new city clerk, Barbara Jones, becomes more involved in election management.
Gruenstein stepped down as city clerk at the end of last month as a result of the problems stemming from the April 3 election, and Assembly chair Ernie Hall had fired Duke in May.
This is a developing story. Check back with KTUU.com and Channel 2 News for more details.