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Friday, April 19, 2019
HomePolitics and PolicyGail Fenumiai returns as Elections Director

Gail Fenumiai returns as Elections Director

A veteran of Alaska elections, Gail Fenumiai, will return as the director of the Division of Elections starting in January. The announcement was made by the office of Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer today.

Fenumiai was the division director for seven years and had 10 years of additional experience working at the division. She was in charge during the controversial write-in campaign for Sen. Lisa Murkowski, when ballots had to be judged one by one as to the voters’ intent regarding the spelling of Murkowski and the filling in of the oval.

But former Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott said he wanted to “move in some new directions with the Division of Elections and it was felt that it was time for different leadership,” according to his former chief of staff.

The leader Mallott chose was Josie Bahnke, the city manager of Nome. ““I think it’s just that the lieutenant governor would like to move forward and reach his goal of having the best elections division in the country,” Claire Richardson said at the time.

Fenumiai returns at a time when some have had their faith in the elections division shaken.

In 2016, voting irregularities in several rural communities were enough to bring a court challenge over the District 40 results. Voters in some villages in that district were allowed to vote both a Republican ballot and a Democrat-other ballot.

The court ruled to allow the results in that district to stand, chalking up the illegal voting to poor training in the Division of Elections.

“Gail has the skills, wisdom, experience and judgement to restore Alaskan’s faith and trust in our elections process and that is exactly what we pledge to do.” said Lt. Gov. Meyer.

Fenumiai most recently worked as a regional coordinator at Catholic Community Service in Juneau, she begins working at the Division of Elections on Jan. 2, 2019. Region 1 Elections Supervisor Lauri Wilson will serve as Interim Director.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Does this mean dead people can no longer vote?

    • only in Anchorage…

  • This bring badly needed credibility back to state elections.

  • Mary Sweet Mother Jesus! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! It was a sad day when Gail was let go and I am so pleased that this administration had the sense to ask her back and she accepted their offer. Gail is a hard worker and knows her stuff. As Suzanne mentioned, she was at the helm during the 2010 Senate election – Murkowski write-in vs Miller. After that, Gail and her crew were awarded Governor Parnell’s 2011 Denali Peak Performance Award for the EXCEPTIONAL TEAM PERFORMANCE category for the Senate Election 2010 Response Team. I am sure Gail has her marching orders, but she knows what needs to be done. She has her work cut out for her but she’s the woman for the job. Go Team Gail! I’m With Her (Insert Arrow Here).

  • This is the worst possible appointment. It means that we’ll get nothing improved for our elections department. There were a bunch of affidavits in the 2010 election about voting issues, and she did nothing. Just Deep State.

    • Be more specific, Lance. Who’s race? Who’s affidavits?

  • Yep. Dead Democrats, illegal aliens, and convicted criminals too.

  • I certainly hope she will be looking into the LeDoux mess …

  • I agree whole heartily with Lance Roberts. Looks like the CRB club is reasserting itself. Thanks Tuckerman

  • An outstanding choice and all who know Gail or have seen her work, know she is the perfect choice. Integrity and ethics are at her core. Great news!

    • Agree Leslie.

  • If Joe Miller ever runs against Lisa Murkowski again, make sure the write-in ballots include proper spelling or they will not be tabulated. Many write-in voters couldn’t spell: L I S A.

  • This is dreadful, horrible, awful news. Of all the possible people in the world, she is the least credible for this job.

  • As has been noted earlier, Ms. Fenumiai was the helm of a disastrous 2010 US Senate election. Election law at that time stated very explicitly that in order for a write-in vote to be counted, in addition to the bubble being filled in, the name had to be 1) Legible, 2) Spelled exactly as was written on the candidate’s filing paperwork, 3) If there were any indications of voter fraud (such as multiple ballots from one precinct being written in the same handwriting) all votes from that precinct would not be counted, and probably most importantly, 4) Voter intent could not be inferred if points 1 and 2 were not met.

    Under the careful and watchful eye of Ms. Fenumiai, the Division of Elections ignored all of these requirements during the counting of write-in ballots. It was covered sparingly in the news, but it was evident that the intent of the 2010 election was to return Lisa Murkoswski to the US Senate, regardless of State Election law. Whether she would have won if the law was followed or not is unknown, because the law was not followed.

    In an effort to cover up the fraud, and to limit the exposure to the Division of Elections blatantly ignoring the law in the future, one of the very first actions of the Legislature in 2011 was to change election law to basically mirror the way the 2010 election was counted.

    It was a disgrace. And I’m not just mad because Crazy Joe Miller lost, his dumpster-fire campaign had enough problems on its own. I’m made because there were blatant, and documented, counts of election law being ignored.