By ART CHANCE
My earliest memories of things political in Alaska were the controversies surrounding Jay Hammond’s defeat of the legendary Bill Egan for governor in 1974, followed four years later by Hammond’s primary defeat of Wally Hickel. Both those elections were rife with error and fraud.
The Alaska Supreme Court said in plain language that the 1978 Hammond-Hickel primary was tainted by malconduct to the extent that the true outcome was in doubt, but it refused to upset the election result. There was fraud in Knowles’ 1998 victory over Robin Taylor but again, the court refused to upset the election result.
Back in the day, Alaska had four time zones and was, in Southeast Alaska, four time zones from the East Coast. On election night, once the votes came in from Southeast and the Railbelt, you knew how many votes you needed so you got on the phone to rural Alaska where you had two more time zones and two more hours to find votes; let the bidding begin.
Those were the days when the “Bush Caucus” had enormous power in Alaska politics. I’ll never really understand why Gov. Bill Sheffield collapsed Alaska into one time zone (with a few small exceptions) because it took away one of the greatest power sources the Democrats had: the Bush Vote.
Since the free gas incentives in the first Knowles election, fraud hasn’t been much of an issue in Statewide elections, which isn’t to say there wasn’t any, but it wasn’t determinative. There have been more than mere suspicion in many House, Senate, and local elections, but those don’t get much attention.
Alaska’s voting system has always been ripe for fraud. The registration system was far too loose, it was too easy to cast an absentee or challenged ballot, and supervision of the vote count was somewhere between scant and non-existent in much of the State. They were “finding” bags of ballots in the trunk of Trooper cars weeks after the elections in the Hammond-Egan and Hammond-Hickel elections. Somehow we became complacent in the Murkowski-Palin-Parnell-Walker years because the elections weren’t that close.
Then the good-government types did the stupidest thing in Alaska history; they came up with the Permanent Fund dividend automatic registration, as if motor-voter wasn’t fraud bait enough. Everybody and his dog can and does apply for a PFD. The Permanent Fund Division of the Department of Revenue has virtually no verification or fraud detection capability. It relies on PFD fraudsters doing something stupid and getting ratted out by their jealous neighbors. The State makes a lot of smoke and noise busting a few of them every so often and uses that as its fraud deterrent. Only God knows how many registered voter don’t live here or who don’t exist.
Fast forward to the Scamdemic. The communists, excuse me, Democrats used the Scamdemic as their justification to assault Alaska’s already sketchy election laws. There were plenty of leftist judges who were ever-so happy to go along. The judges removed the second signature verification from absentee ballots. They sent out unrequested absentee ballot applications to thousands of “registered” voters who might or might not exist.
We already had an extended early voting period, so the Democrats could use George Soros or SEIU money to bring punks with iPads north to work the neighborhoods and harvest votes or, some think, harvest ballot applications from mailboxes. I don’t know how much the unions and other leftist groups were using their resources to produce fraudulent ballots, but they certainly had the capability. Give them a list of registered voters that you know no longer live in the district or even in the State, and they’ll give you however many votes you want.
If you were trying to design a voting scheme that was easy to defraud, look no further than Anchorage’s all mail ballot system. Anchorage uses the State of Alaska’s filthy voter rolls. Practically everybody who has come to Alaska seeking a summer job or fleeing an arrest warrant and who applied for unemployment and food stamps is a registered voter, even if they didn’t get the job and went back to Podunk in a month. Practically every military guy who got ordered here applied for a PFD when eligible and even though it has been 10 years and he/she has no intention of ever returning, s/he’s a registered voter in Alaska and a PFD recipient.
Anchorage has a lengthy “early voting” period and provides anyone who asks a list of who has and hasn’t voted so far. That is simply a vote harvesting scheme. If you are a union, you have a very accurate contact list of all your members, in most cases provided to you by a public employer at public expense. You check the list of who has and hasn’t voted, and you send somebody to go jack up the ones that haven’t.
The leftist special interest groups are almost as effective but they have to do their own work to keep their contact lists up to date. The unions and the leftist front groups WILL get out their vote. I’ve always suspected that a lot of those people don’t know they voted, but we’ve never had a government that was courageous or honest enough to check.
In Anchorage, the Left buys votes at wholesale; conservatives/Republicans have to get their vote at retail. The Democrats/leftists/union get most of their votes in neatly organized blocks of union members and interest group members. They are easy to identify and turn out, and particularly with the union members there is an implicit threat if they don’t turn out and vote “right.”
The Left can organize their vote without ever running a single mass media advertisement; email and social media will contact every one of their constituents, and only their constituents.
The Right has to try to contact their constituencies through a hopelessly fragmented media market and with shoe leather and phone calls, and since the State’s rolls don’t have accurate or up-to-date addresses or contact numbers, a conservative candidate has to spend a lot of money for somewhat more accurate lists, or just trudge down the streets of the districts hoping to find somebody who hasn’t already voted for the leftist.
Even the shoe leather is somewhat subsidized by the public treasury to turn out the Left’s vote. Most unions have some sort of paid release from work for “union business.” Union members can be released from duty with pay to handbill, put up signs, or engage in get-out-the-vote activities for union endorsed candidates at the public expense. I have personal knowledge of union/Democrat get-out-the-vote phone banks set up in State of Alaska conference rooms. I have personal knowledge of union members being sent out to put up signs for union backed candidates on “work” time.
The elections are rigged.
And, no, the exception isn’t proof; Mayor Bronson’s election was a fluke. Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’ implosion and the growing revulsion to the leftist Assembly’s Scamdemic fascism made his election possible, but that election gave him nothing with which to govern; he has one and a half votes on the Assembly, an Assembly which is dedicated to the proposition of not letting him govern.
So long as we have the current mail ballot electoral system, the Municipal government will only serve public employees and parasites; the rest of us just get to pay for it all. The School Board is no better — the taxpayers and parents have one vote on the board, Dave Donley; the teachers’ union has the rest.
Lots of Republicans are pounding their chests about an impending “Red Tsunami” because of the Democrats’ weak showing in the polls these days.
It is an illusion; they don’t have to win the vote, they just have to win the count.
Art Chance is a retired Director of Labor Relations for the State of Alaska, formerly of Juneau and now living in Anchorage. He is the author of the book, “Red on Blue, Establishing a Republican Governance,” available at Amazon.