Chilling effect on election observers created as Anchorage Ombudsman refers questions to Department of Law


The Anchorage Office of the Ombudsman has officially referred the results of an investigation into the involvement of the city’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) director, Marc Dahl, during a challenge to the April 4 municipal election to the state Department of Law.

Ombudsman Darrel Hess, a liberal partisan who works for the Anchorage Assembly, stated that he “reasonably believes that there may have been a violation of state election statutes” and is recommending that Mayor Dave Bronson terminate Dahl from his position. Dahl has been on administrative leave for several weeks.

This action by the ombudsman, who has shown strong bias against the mayor, could create a chilling effect on anyone who would sign up to be an election observer in the future. Election observers are the only way a citizen can lodge an election complaint, but lodging a complaint now appears to put citizens in peril of a legal claim against them by the Anchorage Assembly or its surrogate, the ombudsman.

The investigation centers around events that unfolded on April 11, when Dahl instructed his IT staff to publish an internal security policy related to USB (thumb) drives being inserted into the city’s intranet’s IT security web page. The thumb drives were not being checked to ensure they were not transferring data to the election equipment, and Dahl wanted to tighten up that procedure.

The new policy, developed during the election, was emailed to election observer Sami Graham. Graham and two other observers cited the content of this policy in a formal challenge to the city’s municipal election, which had occurred on April 4. Hess is concluding that Graham and other challengers were coordinating with Dahl.

Graham and the other observers wanted to ensure that people inserting thumb drives into election equipment were being supervised or that their actions were being witnessed by another employee.

The complaint against the election observers that triggered the investigation was lodged on April 26, following an April 20 public session of the Anchorage Election Commission’s canvass and adoption of the election canvass report.

The complainant expressed concerns about the Anchorage OIT director’s potential role in developing and posting the USB policy with the intent of supporting an election observer’s challenge to the municipal election.

After reviewing documents and conducting interviews with various stakeholders, including Office of Information Technology staff and former staff, the Ombudsman concluded that a longstanding internal thumb drive policy had existed for several years. This policy required OIT staff to scan USB drives before inserting them into Municipal of Anchorage equipment. This policy was solely an internal OIT policy and did not have MOA-wide applicability.

Mayor Rick Mystrom’s MOA Policy & Procedure 1-1, signed on April 8, 1997, mandates a collaborative process involving all department directors, department policy coordinators, and the Office of Management & Budget for the development of policies with Muni-wide applications. The finalized, signed document with an assigned P&P number is supposed to be shared with MOA employees. The investigation revealed that the development and posting of the Office of Information Technology USB policy on April 11 did not adhere to these requirements.

The Ombudsman reported that the OMB Director was unaware of the policy’s existence until contacted by the Ombudsman, and the OIT Chief Information Security Officer confirmed that the posted policy was solely an internal OIT policy and did not hold MOA-wide authority.

The referral of the investigation’s results to the state Office of Special Prosecutions and the recommendation for Mayor Bronson to terminate Marc Dahl’s position mark a turning point in this case that may impact the actions and the public’s confidence of future elections.


  1. When I did elections in Muldoon, we didn’t use thumb drives. We took the voting machine off its pedestal and connected it to a standard telephone line, dialed up, and uploaded the data to the Division of Elections. Sometimes we couldn’t get a connection as everyone was uploading data around the same time. If we couldn’t get a connection after a number of tries, we simply brought the machine, along w/all ballots and other equipment, back to the DOE office.

    • This is the process used by Municipal Elections Only! You worked a State Election. When the MOA tabulated votes they do go onto a system where a thumb drive can be inserted into the main computer. We have no ability to see what is exactly being done or what is being tampered with as an observer.

    • I remember hand counting ballots as the way to tabulate. But like it or not, those days are gone.

      We gotta learn and adapt, or die.

      • Anchorage is already dead, MA. Thumb drives or any other unaccountable quasi-“secure” data transfer system is ripe for fraud – and you have NO way to challenge it. Hand-counting with observers present at every step and full ballot security is the only way to ensure election integrity.

        • I get Anchorage is a lost cause. I saw this car crash and left for Juneau years ago.

          It’s as much the principle as anything. The right has to stop rolling over and playing defense all the time, or get out of the game.

          Step one: acknowledge reality, even if it sucks.

          Step two; learn the rules of the game as currently played and get better at it that the left. One can be ethical and still street fight if necessary.

  2. It’s telling that the content of the policy is not questioned or debated. It is a good policy and would enhance election security if followed. The attack diversion is instead focused on individuals who donate their time and desire secure transparent elections.

    • You are correct, this policy would enhance election security, that is why the commie majority on the assembly are fighting this fight and blaming Marc.

  3. Sometimes I’m amazed by Bronson, and not in a good way.

    By now he knows the Politburo is out to get him via death by 1000 cuts. He and his people have got to be smarter.

    The Politburo is going to give everything Bronson does a colonoscopy. Be three steps ahead of them.

    Get people on staff whose job is to triple check city and state codes. Know them backwards and forwards. Do ever possible to avoid these unforced errors.

    • Great advice, Avenger. Being right or doing right doesn’t guarantee anything now but trouble from the Comintern.

    • You hit the nail right on the head Mr Avenger.!! The Mayor is dumb and surrounds himself with dumb people giving him bad advice. He may be the most brilliant airplane driver in the world, but when it comes to politics he’s still a bit wet behind the ears where momma licked him.

      It’s a shame that Craig Campell didn’t stick around because he was smart. Between him and Baker, the Mayor had the best advicers, but now he doesn’t
      Have them.

      Marc Dahl is a patriot who was only following orders, and now he has his name in the mud because of these evil liberals.

      Thank God for Suzanne, her writing is the best

      • I don’t know him so I can’t speak to his intelligence or intentions, but…

        He needs to stop playing defense. Learn the game and beat them at it.

      • Lee- because Craig Campbell is a reader and he knows how to read volumes of work. It’s likely the Dahl and other Alaskan leaders aren’t much of readers just like our children. That doesn’t mean AKDemocrats read anymore than Republicans cause their kids are no less dumb and no less smarter than Republican families kids. But at least AKDemocrats find leaders like Darryl, what’s her name the last city clerk, what‘a his name the assembly’s attorney the one using ASL, or folks as Scott Kendall who could read for hours to do the group’s reading and researching for them.

        • I have worked with Marc within the municipality and know that he follows standard IT practices. The Municipality will not enforce these practices across departments cause we have a commie majority on the Assembly ripping our election rights away fromus. They do not want accountability or appropriate security, that would expose their methods if cheating. The Assembly members control elections through their supervising the position…
          Marc Dahl has attempted to get everyone to adopt better IT practices, that is his job, it is the Assembly that is putting us all and our election process at cyber risk.

  4. Manda: You were working on a state election. This discussion involves an all by mail ballots muni election.

    Different laws, differenr processes. No comparisons apply.

  5. One man. One vote per the US guaranteed republic US Constitution. Anything out of compliance with the US Constitution from inception is void for effect. APPLY THE US Constitution if you can or get caught opposing it in front of the people. Big price to pay there. Not a garden party, girls.

  6. The left have the elections right where they want them. They have created a simple way of cheating and the conservatives need to flush it and go back to results the day with the only exception for real absentee ballots.

  7. Cybercrime has been highly developed to the point that election integrity cannot be assured. Many places have gone back to hand counting votes, including our neighbors in the valley. By doing this, voter turnout has increased. They can still give us the results of an election much faster than what is happening in Anchorage. It is against human nature to consistently vote for the same idiots time after time and to be so willing to constantly vote to raise their property taxes. Something more is wrong besides the easily perceived low voter turnout. Cheating will never be totally eliminated no matter how we vote, but technology certainly opens up a lot more opportunities. Problem is, politicians on both sides of the house enjoy the opportunity and don’t want it changed because they think they can out-cheat their opponents. So to clean this up, someone in position of authority must step in…..someone with position and integrity. Any ideas?

    • Is it low voter turnout or are ballots not getting out to every qualified voter?
      We need a true the voter to every ballot and ensure we do not waste money sending out ballots to invalid addresses/voters. Force us all to come in and get a new voter card…..

  8. Every time people question the election in Anchorage, the Assembly comes out swinging! In 2022, Bronson Administration sent a letter to Barb Jones (City Clerk) asking why a USB was used during the election. Right after that, the Assembly decided to change City Ordinance giving them the authority to remove the Mayor. Barb never responded to the letter. We have some real idiots in our city that continue to vote for these losers and we have others that never vote (just as bad), but if you compare the people who did cast votes and look at their affiliation then a large swath of Republicans voted for this radical Assembly. If you believe that, let’s talk about buying some ocean front property in Arizona.

    • The crooked infiltration in Anchorage is deep. I am glad, in one way, that this worldly take-over has been allowed to play out like this because even those infiltrators embedded deeply in the governments are finally showing their ugly heads and we are learning who they are. The war is on between light and dark. Light wins. God wins.

  9. Ombudsmen act for the benefit of the citizens, not a biased IT Supervisor working for an incompetent Mayor

  10. If Mystrom’s MOA Policy & Procedure 1-1 does not apply to department policies which do not affect other departments, the ombudsman’s issue seems moot.
    At worst, it could be perceived that the ombudsman’s doing this to distract voters from the fact that his Muni co-workers stick thumb drives with unknown content into Muni election gear for reasons unkown to voters.
    Nothing to see here? Remember Stuxnet?
    Every legitimately registered voter in Anchorage should be very concerned, not with the ombudsman’s faux outrage, but with the fact that Muni employees stick thumb drives into Muni election gear.
    Notice the ombudsman’s not demanding to know why his co-workers do this. He’s not demanding deep dives into thumb-drive code lines to analyze for malware and unauthorized code.
    No, he’s treating potential whistleblowers to another shoot-the-messenger show, a stark lesson in what Muni employees do to anyone who challenges the honesty of an election system run by Muni employees who stick thumb drives of unknown content into Muni election gear
    …which, as one remembers, tallies the votes to assure job security of Assembly members for whom these same Muni employees work.
    The public’s confidence in municipal elections was arguably lost when Assemblymen Traini and Dunbar forced mail-in voting on residents.
    The thumb-drive saga and the ombudsman’s retaliation don’t restore that confidence.

    • Exactly! The Ombudsman is creating smoke and mirrors to take away from the real issues of the integrity of our elections. And the public needs to understand that these people work for the Assembly that is supposed to be nonpartisan…does anyone believe our city government is nonpartisan 🤦‍♀️

  11. As a former IT Director for the muni, I can assure you all that Marc Dahl was doing his job reminding all municipal staff of their requirement to do proper vigilence for appropriate cyber security. USB sticks are the bane of IT. Most people just DO NOT THINK before plugging one into a device, regardless of knowing what harm it can do.
    Mayor Bronson, Marc Dahl was doing his job and every one should be following all standard IT security practices and policies, especially as it compromises the integrity of information being transferred.
    Assembly members, do your part as well, you keep compromising our elections with cyber INSECURITY.
    Do your jobs as good as Marc Dahl did his and maybe we can turn our city back into something special.
    Marc Dahl, we IT people all over the state are cheering you on.

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