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Municipal Election Commission Releases Report – Let the Whitewashing Begin!

~The security seal used to secure memory cards into Anchorage’s
insecure Diebold AccuVote machines.

Today in the Mayor’s conference room in City Hall, the Election Commission released the results of its report and recommendations, including revised numbers that say that 65 of 121 precincts ran out of ballots at some point during the day – a higher total than the 55 previously reported. The commission’s report came after two meetings with voters and poll workers who spoke one-on-one with an individual election commissioner. Mudflats contributor Elstun Lauesen was there today when Commission Chair Gwen Matthew read the entire report aloud.

During the information gathering sessions, the commissioners filled out forms summarizing the interviews, and the forms were reviewed by the commission. Normally the job of the Election Commission is to oversee the vote count of the election, but in this instance they decided to add comments, and recommendations.

According to the just-released report:

“The Election Commission can only rely on the evidence presented in the personal and phone interviews, emails and public meetings. All indications are that ballot shortages for cards 4 and 2 were the result of unintended error on the part of the Clerk’s Office. While this created chaos during the final hours of the mayoral election, the problem did not meet the standards of malconduct, fraud, or reckless indifference on the part of anyone involved. The Commission does not recommend a new election or an independent investigation.”


Let’s look at their statement.

The Election Commission says that they cannot rely on anything other than:

1) the meager testimony given at Assembly meetings which had no designated time to talk about the election, and required those wanting to testify to wait for hours until meeting’s end and the general public comment period.

2) One-on-one interviews summarized onto simplistic one-sided, one-page forms that did not ask about faulty, or compromised election equipment. These meetings were given with extremely short notice.

The commission do not have information that would be available from a hand count of ballots, or a forensic investigation of equipment, or anyone who didn’t voluntarily come to a hastily called meeting. They acknowledge the limited scope of information, and that they cannot know the information they need to reach any kind of meaningful conclusion. They also can only rely on information that was brought to them, not information they went out to seek, based on a period of time longer than 48 hours.

So far, none of the information that they gleaned from interviews has been made available to the public as far as I know. And even if the forms were available, we have NO testimony transcribed or recorded from the interviews. So to characterize anything as being “public” is a stretch. Anything an interviewer didn’t put in the notes, never happened as far as the full commission is concerned.

They say that all indications are that ballot shortages were unintentional. How do they know? Who did they ask? What were the indications? Why were the ballots left at the clerk’s office, and in boxes in the library? What about the reports from poll workers who said they were told before election day that they’d be receiving fewer ballots this year than in past years? And ballot shortages were by no means the only issues that was problematic in this election.

The Election Commission is clearly friendly with the Clerk’s Office. They are both municipal government entities, and the Deputy Clerk, Jacqueline Duke was even sitting on the stage with the Election Commission, telling a voter he was out of line for speaking to the entire commission. She also greeted people at the door. The Clerk, Barbara Gruenstein was there also. They weren’t there to testify. They were helping to run the meeting, and the separation of entities was obviously blurred. Whatever slip-shod investigation this commission did in just a few days, it certainly was not impartial or independent.

The second meeting where poll workers and precinct chairs were invited to testify happened Monday evening. It took the commission less than 48 hours to reach the conclusion that there had been no malconduct, fraud, or reckless indifference? They simply did not have enough time to make a measured decision. They seem to be in an awful rush to certify this election.

The Clerk’s Office “created chaos” through error, according to the report. Creating chaos on election day, intentional or not, should be enough for someone to lose their job, or at minimum to be suspended until an investigation can occur. Creating chaos by erring that badly in your job is difficult to excuse, especially, in Duke’s case where intentional misinformation was given (see below), and she enjoys compensation in excess of $80,000 per annum.

According to the Commission, the problem did not rise to the level of:

  • malconduct – dishonesty in public affairs
  • fraud – intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another
  • reckless indifference – careless to the point of being heedless of the consequences

The first two simply cannot be known without an independent investigation. A body (the Municipality) cannot investigate itself and be impartial. People who owe their professional positions to one of the candidates (the mayor), cannot be neutral in the investigation of his election, or others who also owe their jobs to the mayor.

As for reckless indifference, the massive ballot shortages, the disenfranchisement of voters at polling places, and  most of all, the fact that Deputy Clerk Jacqueline Duke specifically told the poll workers she trained to ignore broken security seals on voting machines, in direct opposition to the directions in the voter manual, clearly represents carelessness to the point of being heedless of the consequences.

The commission recommends that there not be a new election. Again, this is based on admittedly incomplete information – only from interviews, not from any type of investigation of security seals that were reported to appear deliberately cut, machine malfunction, or tampering with memory cards. THE only way to know anything about the numbers is through a complete hand-count of all paper ballots. It does not matter what the numbers are, as long as the foul-up (intentional or not) is electronic. And we cannot be sure of this if security seals were not intact, or had been replaced if broken, as Duke directed.

Also, the commission recommends that no independent investigator be hired. Why? The ACLU, the NAACP, many voters, poll workers, and even the Municipal Clerk, Barbara Gruensteins have all called for an independent investigation.

And while we’re thinking of it, who has investigated the Election Commission? Remember that Gwen Matthew, Chair of the Commission is the one who called the Diebold AccuVote machines, that are notorious for being insecure and unreliable, “utterly amazing” and almost “totally accurate.” This assertion from the Election Commissioner is deeply disturbing, as a simple Google search reveals the multiple instances of fraud, tampering and hacking that can occur quickly and simply by anyone who knows what they’re doing.

One of the sections in the report states:

“A number of concerns were raised about the security and functionality of the AccuVote machines.

These machines on loan from the state are nearing the end of their ten-year life span. This is a simple scan and count device with a paper trail if there is a question in any precinct. Results are tabulated on a dedicated stand-alone server without access to the internet with one administrator and an official observer.”

The fact that the machines are now reported to be near the end of their “ten year life span” is in direct contradiction to what Election Commission Chair Gwen Matthew told the Assembly during a work session last week. When Chris Birch asked specifically about the issue of outdated machinery, this is how the exchange went.

Birch – I just had a question kind of on the functionality of the hardware – the Diebold scanning units. As I recall, they were secured by the state in about 2002. It kind of went through a statewide process, through the Lt. Governor’s office. I know when I personally voted, it kicked out my ballot a couple times. And I know from having familiarity with laptops, and computers and stuff, you know… things from 2002, 10 or 11 years later sometimes the technology can get pretty outdated. So, I just wanted to know, as a Commission, do you have any engagement with the hardware side of this, the functionality of the scanning equipment?

Matthew – Well, I happen to have been Chairman of the AccuVote testing board for this, (laughs) so I do. Those are amazing machines – utterly amazing. You… they print out everything. It is impossible for them to go haywire. You can put it in any way – front, back – sometimes if it doesn’t read you just turn it over and put it in. We have tested each and every one of those machines, every year, and um, we run tapes, and double-check and just like at the commission, two people work at the same time. They are highly accurate. I think that I could almost say that they’re totally accurate. I’ve never found a discrepency.

So, did the Chair of the Election Commission have no idea that there may have been a 10-year lifespan on the state’s election equipment? Or did Birch just provide a plausible out for any machine irregularities? We don’t know unless there is an independent investigation.

And  regarding their assurances in the report that we have a paper trail “in case there are any questions, there WERE questions. There were questions in every district because we do not know how many voting machines either had broken seals, or replaced seals. According to Deputy Clerk Jacqueline Duke, they break all the time. So, yes Commission, there ARE questions, and they are everywhere. So let us at least begin to march down that paper trail since we have one. Granted, it is old and the ballots have been out of the public eye for almost a month, which is a problem in itself.

The “scan and count device” is not the problem. The software and the memory card are the problem. That’s why there IS a security seal in the first place. But there I go with logic again.

The bottom line is that the conclusion of this report is so absurd on its face, that to anyone with common sense it proves exactly why there is a need for independent investigation, and exactly how far this commission will go to protect itself, the Clerk’s office, and the continued use of the insecure Diebold AccuVote system.

ADN’s Kyle Hopkins spoke to Assembly member Harriet Drummond about the Commission’s report

Assembly member Elvi Gray-Jackson said she was concerned that the recommendation from the Commission might mean that some Assembly members would back away from hiring an independent investigator.

You know what to do. You can email to reach the entire Assembly. It is not known if Chair Ernie Hall will be checking his email while on vacation in Palm Springs, but we can hope.



22 Responses to “Municipal Election Commission Releases Report – Let the Whitewashing Begin!”
  1. Icesaber says:

    Forget indpendant investigation. We must march on city hall. Now. Let’s get this done, disrupt these offices and call for a boycott on Alaska until we get our Election

  2. wallflower says:

    I’m having a hard time getting past “unintended error,” as opposed to all those intended errors, apparently. And “careless indifference” is amply demonstrated when nearly half your polling sites didn’t have enough ballots.

  3. mike from iowa says:

    From out of the East a stranger came, a law book in his hand. A man-the kind of a man Alaska needs to tame a troubled land. Cuz the rule of law ain’t the only things rwnj don’t understand. When the majority oppresses the rest of us it is time for the Feds to lend a hand. Contact the FEC and the Holder Justice Department and smoke these musty ,moldy coyotes out of Alaska.

  4. Zyxomma says:

    I am shocked and horrified, but not surprised. I’d tell Anchorage residents to vote the corrupt bastards out, but if your votes are not counted, how could you?

  5. WhichTruth says:

    Anybody remember this? Palm Beach Elections Overturned After Hand-Count Reveals Op-Scans Mistallied Results

    Yep, these machines are perfect.

  6. WhichTruth says:

    There is no reason not to have the independent investigation, unless someone has something to hide.

  7. WhichTruth says:

    What is it going to take for them to understand that nothing short of a complete forensic audit and a hand count is acceptable, or will be tolerated?

  8. akfirefly says:

    Maybe some genius movie producer, can come up and get a film tax credit, by making a movie out of this circus.

  9. By the way, the forms that were used by the Election Commission during the interviews…the seperate forms for the voters and poll workers and all of the questions on them…were created by…

    …wait for it…

    Jacqueline Duke!!!!!

    • All I Saw says:

      Good grief. Am I the only one who fails to see her qualifications for this job, let alone what seems like excessive compensation?

      Seriously, at least Bernadette threw good parties.

  10. Ivan says:

    well ,
    it like asking dick darth vader chaney to investigate the shooting of his hunting buddy.

    i said it once, i will say it again

    i am a fox ,
    i manage a chicken coup for the city.
    two of the city’s chickens are missing, feathers & blood are all over the coup floor.
    i will be launching an investigating into the disappearance of the chickens.
    pay no attention to the blood stains on my teeth.

    can we not sue the city???

  11. akfirefly says:

    So, the Election Commission investigated itself and concluded that there was no evidence of “malconduct, fraud, or reckless indifference” committed by itself.
    Such a way with words Simple has.

    This reminds me of a certain hand-picked personnel board, that cleared Palin of all them ethics violations.

    And dayum, $80,000+ a year to do what Duke does? How do I get her job? 🙂

  12. Marlys says:

    Stunning indeed. This can’t stand!

  13. AKMagpie says:

    And the fox, interviewed outside the henhouse, brushed feathers away from it’s snout and said ” Hens?” What Hens?”

    • AKMagpie says:

      Its snout, not it’s. It’s late.

    • Sourdough Mullet says:

      And Mayor Dan Sullivan, shooing the interviewer away from the henhouse, wiped the drool from his chin and sniffed “Hey, get away from my foxes, you nosey left wing liberal! I’LL interview the foxes around here (for specious and lucrative positions in my administration….)”

      • slipstream says:

        And when you say “foxes” do you mean “party planner” ??

        • Sourdough Mullet says:

          Oh, ya know… Party Planners, Election Clerks, Insurance Fraud and Ethics Investigators, Danny Boy’s an equal opportunity opportunist.

  14. Simple Mind says:

    So, the Election Commission investigated itself and concluded that there was no evidence of “malconduct, fraud, or reckless indifference” committed by itself. So, there is no need for anyone else to investigate. The only thing surprising about this report is that they had the nerve to issue such a silly and irrelevant document at all.

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  1. […] Apr 2012. “Municipal Election Commission Releases Report – Let the Whitewashing Begin!” by Jeanne Devon (The Mudflats). Bookmark on Delicious Digg this post Recommend on Facebook share […]

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