ANCHORAGE, Alaska—Nearly 14 weeks after the April Municipal Elections in Anchorage, yet another shoe has dropped in connection with that flawed election day.
On July 11, 141 sample ballots were discovered in a vault in Anchorage City Hall. As of publication, no one knows if those votes were counted in the election.
But the new revelation does add to the embarrassment of the city.
Already, a city clerk -- and a deputy city clerk -- have lost their jobs over this issue.
On Saturday, Ernie Hall, the Chairman of the City Assembly, said that preliminary indications are that the latest irregularity may be connected with the confusion of election day.
On that day, as it became clear at 2 in the afternoon that paper ballots were running short in half the precincts of the city. So poll workers were forced to improvise.
They issued "Sample Ballots" to voters, and had them cast their votes on them.
But after the votes were written on those sample ballots, election workers had an obligation to treat them differently from rugular ballots. Because optical scanners in the precinct are programmed to ignore sample ballots, the improvised samples were supposed to be put in separate envelopes -- and marked as "Questioned Ballots" .
Instead, they were sealed in bags with regular ballots.
Because they were in the wrong place, no one knows whether they were counted or not.
And so, within the next two weeks, a meeting of the Anchorage Election Commission must be called. The commission will examine the sample ballots against the ballots actually cast in the three precincts in question. In that way, they will determine whether the ballots can be validated.
Once that happens, then the City Assembly will meet -- probably sometime in August -- to provide a final certification for the election results.
Hall is confident that there are no more uncounted ballots -- no more hidden embarrassments waiting to be discovered.
The reason he feels certain of this is because after he was made aware of the problem on Wednsday, he had election workers go through the sealed bags of votes for all precincts. No more questionable sample ballots were found in any of the bags.
The city has spent about 50-thousand dollars looking into the election problems of last April and correcting them. That's added about 10 percent the approximate half-million dollar cost of the election.
The hope is that the lessons learned will serve Anchorage well when its next municipal election is held in April of next year.