By RANDY RUEDRICH
The Anchorage Election Commission completed the 2021 Mayoral Runoff Election Canvas at 11:36 pm on Friday, May 22.
The runoff election generated 90,720 ballots, with Dave Bronson receiving 45,889 votes or 50.66% of the vote.
Runoff voter turnout increased 15,279 from the regular election on April 6 to 38.31% of eligible voters, the highest municipal election participation ever.
More than 6,800 regular election voters did not participate in the runoff election. However, 22,000 people who did not vote in the regular election voted in the runoff election.
The Anchorage Election Commission’s canvass confirmed that 1,691 ballot envelopes should not be counted. But 98.2% of the runoff election envelopes were opened and the ballots inside them were counted.
What are the compliance defects for these 1,691 envelopes?
The most fixable group are the 240 envelopes postmarked after Election Day.
The Muni Clerk, the Mayoral Campaigns, MRAK and others encouraged voters to mail earlier. But 342 envelopes were late in the 2021 Regular Election. Our runoff voters have an apparent 30% reduction in late ballot envelopes compared the April Muni Regular Election. When the calculation includes the increased runoff turnout, the reduction in late ballot envelopes is 41.6%. Let’s claim real progress on the procrastination problem.
1,052 rejected ballot envelope signatures did not match their state reference signatures. The Clerk’s office sent these voters a “cure” letter requesting another signature. The mayoral campaigns urged their identified voters to complete and return their cure letters. The Clerks’ office and Muni voters cured 1229 ballot envelopes. The 54% cure rate should be a new standard to beat. These remaining 1052 voters did not respond. Moral: No Signature match, then the ballot is not counted.
More complex rejections are the 61 unsigned ballot envelopes. There is no voter privacy issue here; a ballot envelope is opened and the secrecy sleeve with its ballot are removed. The empty envelopes are bundled and saved. The ballots are removed from their secrecy sleeve and flattened for scanning.
The problem for these 61 unsigned ballot envelopes is that their voters did not respond to their cure letters, which required signing an affidavit affirming that the envelope contains that voter’s ballot. Moral: No signature, then the ballot is not counted.
Another 120 voters submitted their 2021 Regular Election Ballots after the regular election was over and the 2021 Runoff Ballots were already distributed.
A troubling reject group are the 44 voters who cast two ballot envelopes. These envelopes will be forwarded to the District Attorney.
The remaining 174 rejected envelopes have technical issues: Not registered within Anchorage Municipality, registered after the deadline, no signature on file, not returned in proper envelope and other minor compliance errors.
The 2021 Muni Election is in the books.
Randy Ruedrich is a former chairman of the Alaska Republican Party and is an elections expert.