The Anchorage Assembly on Tuesday will take public testimony and will vote on a rewrite of Title 28 of Municipal code, putting severe restrictions on election observers for the all-mail-in ballot counting process.
The Assembly’s radical left majority describes the changes as “housekeeping.”
Working in consort with Municipal Clerk Barbara Jones, the nine leftist members of the Assembly plan to significantly reduce the number of observers who can be in position to watch ballots being counted at the Municipality’s Election Center at 619 East Ship Creek Ave. They also have other requirements, such as not allowing election workers to answer the questions of observers, but to require all questions to be funneled through the Municipal Clerk.
Clerk Jones objected to several election observers from the Dave Bronson for Mayor campaign and got into disputes with several of them during the April election and May runoff election. Their presence visibly rattled her and she was recorded scolding and talking down to the Bronson observers on several occasions. Jones and her operation has never had such scrutiny as they had during the April-May election.
At the same time, Assemblyman Chris Constant was recorded delivering a lavish bouquet of flowers to Jones during the counting process. Constant was a top lieutenant of Assemblyman Forrest Dunbar campaign for mayor and, as a member of the Assembly, is one of Jones’ bosses. The Muni Clerk reports to the Assembly.
The new rules Jones has written will allow her to remove any observer by simply rewriting the election observer handbook on the spot. Observers will also be required to be signed up over three weeks in advance, which is a barrier to candidates who do not have support of unions. Unions are able to deploy people to campaign activities, while candidates without unions must rely on volunteers.
In addition, observers will be required to undergo training from Jones’ staff and will not be able to record what they are seeing using their phones or cameras.
Brice Wilbanks, who was the campaign manager of the Bronson campaign, called these the “Brice amendments,” because most of them appear a result of volunteer vigilance on behalf of the Bronson campaign. Another testifier during Dec. 14’s public hearing described the amendments to Title 28 as obvious “retaliation” against the Bronson campaign.
Others noted that the city is getting ready to have body cameras on police officers, and that the cameras installed in the counting rooms are at such a distance that it’s not easy to see what is going on in the Election Center.
The proposed restricting of observers comes at a time when many in America have doubts about the results of election results in the 2020 General Election.
“Many Republicans appear to have bought into Trump’s lies about nonexistent widespread fraud in an election he lost,” reported NPR in a November news story. “Seventy-two percent of whites with degrees said they had trust in elections, while less than half of non-college-educated whites said they did.” The NPR poll found that only 33 percent of Republicans trust that the 2024 elections will be fair.
The Assembly meets at 5 pm on the ground floor of the Loussac Library, 3600 Denali Street. Information about the meeting, including how to watch it live on YouTube, can be found at this link.
Public testimony will continue tonight on the revised rules. Supporting documents provided by the Assembly:
Also included on the Tuesday agenda is a sole source contract with the Anchorage Daily News for advertising election notices.