On a day of counting ballots in Anchorage’s mayoral runoff election, a fire alarm went off at the Anchorage Municipal Election Office in Ship Creek Wednesday afternoon.
It happened minutes after Anchorage Assembly member Chris Constant signed out of the building, observers said. Constant has been working on the campaign of Forrest Dunbar for mayor; Must Read Alaska has no evidence to indicate Constant set off the alarm. He signed in at 1:40 pm, and signed out at 1:45 pm, and the fire alarm went off less than five minutes later, observers reported.
Ballots were just starting to be scanned when the alarm went off.
Four Dave Bronson for Mayor observers were in the building at the time, and three Dunbar observers. The building was evacuated for about 30 minutes, when no one was inside to observe what was happening. Firefighters arrived on the scene. The Election officials allowed one observer from each camp to do a walk through before the building opened up again for employees and observers.
During the time when the building was evacuated, one Bronson observer was posted on each of the building’s four sides to monitor activity.
The event was reminiscent of Election Night in Atlanta in 2020, when a water line supposedly broke, shutting down all vote counting operations and delaying the results from the state’s largest county, Fulton County.
Update: The cause of the alarm is now being blamed on a faulty smoke detector.
In other security issues related to the Election Office, Bronson observers video recorded a woman trying to enter the building with a box at 10:58 pm on Tuesday night, and several election workers still working in the building after 11 pm, although the Bronson observers had been told that work was done for the night at about 9:30 pm. Having left their observation posts, they returned to the building after 11 pm to find Municipal Clerk Barbara Jones and Deputy Clerk Erika McConnell leaving the building. Two others left the building at the same time.
To better ensure the integrity of the count, the Bronson campaign has relocated its headquarters to a recreational vehicle it has parked in the Elections Office parking lot, and the vehicle will be staffed by volunteers 24 hours a day, as the campaign seeks to more closely monitor what is happening in the ballot counting process.