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Thursday, October 19, 2017
HomeAlaska NewsThe miracle of Buckland

The miracle of Buckland

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In August, Must Read Alaska pointed out the extraordinary number of voters in the village of Buckland, Alaska who were too sick, too old, or too disabled to get to the voting booth during the long summer days, so they voted using a personal representative.

Who is this personal representative?  The personal representative picks up a ballot for this voter, brings the ballot to the voter so they can mark it and seal it in its envelope.  The personal representative then returns the ballot to the election clerk before the polls close at 8 pm.

While 69 people voted normally by going to the polling place, 11 did not. Fully 14 percent of the voters voted via a proxy this way, presumably because they were seriously ill, quite aged, or in traction, as the law requires.

This trend of personal representative voting appeared to indicate a severe health crisis had occurred in the small village of Buckland. After all, six special needs ballots were cast in 2012, and eight in 2014.

But not to worry. Come the general election on Nov. 8, not a single voter in Buckland cast their ballot via a personal representative. What happened to those sick, disabled or old people?

HOTLY CONTESTED RACE

The Buckland controversy matters greatly, as the race between challenger Dean Westlake and incumbent Ben Nageak was one of those Alaska nail-biters, with Westlake ultimately declared the winner.

Westlake’s district-wide total was 825 to Nageak’s 817. If those Buckland ballots were illegal — and we are suggesting they were — then Buckland stole the election for Westlake. Kicking those illegal ballots out of the count would have given Nageak the win by three votes.

But the fix was in. Whether through double voting in Shungnak and other locales, or phony personal representative ballots in Buckland, the Democratic machine wanted Nageak gone. As did Governor Walker and his surrogate, Robin Brenna, who bankrolled the Westlake effort.

No one has ever alleged that elections in rural Alaska are always clean. But this is among the most egregious and widespread cases of voter fraud that we have seen in a long time.

Gov. Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, who is in charge of the Division of Elections, must now live with the knowledge that in order to achieve a small political victory in Northwest Alaska, they sacrificed the integrity of Alaska’s Division of Elections.

We look forward to legislative hearings on this subject, at a minimum. A more transparent and diligent investigation is clearly called for.

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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.

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