District 40 questioned ballots: Another odd twist

Sen. Bill Stoltze
Sen. Bill Stoltze, chairman of State Affairs Committee, holds a hearing this morning on the recent primary elections.


In the last four primaries, District 40 had far more questioned ballots than absentee ballots.

In fact, questioned ballots exceeded absentees by 118 percent for the four primaries before this year.

But in 2016’s primary, Aug. 16, the questioned ballot count drastically dropped — it fell to 62.8 percent, nearly half of the historical count.

This is a radical change in voting behavior, especially since there was a hotly contested race between Rep. Ben Nageak and Dean Westlake who has evidently won the battle.

Voting irregularities in District 40 and 38 have led to what may be an interesting set of explanations from the Division of Elections, which is under pressure because of over-voting, non-private voting, and strangely high numbers of proxy ballots cast.

A hearing at 10 am today may explain some of it. The hearing is scheduled to take place at the Anchorage Legislative Information Offices in Anchorage.

Documents for the hearing are now posted. The hearing will also be teleconferenced. Some of those who have been called to appear include Josie Bahnke, Division of Elections director, and Byron Mallott, lieutenant governor, who oversees elections.

Pertaining to the strange drop in questioned ballots in an election where those ballots were expected to fall toward Nageak, there are questions:

  • Did half of the questioned ballots just never show up in Nome to be counted? Were they thrown out on the spot?
  • Did widespread voter suppression take place, as we heard on Election Day, when election workers told Republicans they would have to vote a questioned ballots, which may have led them to leave in disgust?
  • In addition, is the Division of Elections saying that not a single questioned ballot for District 40 was cast outside the district, such as in Fairbanks or Anchorage? Remarkable.