The Anchorage Municipal Clerk released a new ballot count today: Her election office counted another 2,600 ballots in the Anchorage mayoral runoff election between Dave Bronson and Forrest Dunbar.
Bronson has pulled ahead with a 1,212-vote lead, with 45421 votes for Bronson, to Dunbar’s 44,209 votes.
According to the “white board” at the Election Office, Clerk Barbara Jones has another 1,900 ballots to count. An additional 1,100 ballots have problems with them and need to be “cured” by Friday. The “white board” has frequently been inaccurate but is the only solid information Must Read Alaska has, as of Tuesday evening.
The Bronson campaign has had an aggressive curing program in place since last Wednesday, with dozens of volunteers working the phones, but the Dunbar campaign was slow to the process of reaching out to voters whose ballots didn’t get counted and helping them fix the errors.
Bronson’s attorney Stacey Stone sent a letter to Jones today, asking for greater cooperation with the Bronson campaign, which has felt harassed and snubbed by Jones and some of her staff in the Election Office. Jones has brought up grievances about Must Read Alaska to various volunteers.
Stone wrote that on Monday, Jones issued a press release saying no results would be released that day.
“This, in spite of the understanding that there are at least a few thousand ballots in the Clerk’s possession. As I’m sure you can appreciate, uncertainty in the results of the election breeds distrust. Therefore, we would appreciate notice as to when the ballots currently in the Clerk’s possession will be counted,” Stone wrote.
Volunteers on the Bronson campaign say they cannot get information from the Clerk about which ballots have already been cured, so Stone asked that the Clerk provide that information daily.
Jones may be slowing down the count in order to give the Dunbar campaign more time and encouragement to get its curing program going. The ballots must be cured by Friday.
Indeed, volunteer observers reported to Must Read Alaska that they had the distinct impression the election workers had slowed down the pace on purpose.
The majority of the ballots that need curing are from Democrats, which would mean Dunbar may be able to help cure enough ballots and bring his total within one-half percent of Bronson’s, which would trigger an automatic recount.
Curing ballot isn’t a problem in a normal election, but in this mail-in election, more than one out of every 100 ballots cast in the mayoral race needed to be cured. Most of them will probably go uncured because of the short time period to finish the task, and the fact that some voters whose ballots didn’t count never received a letter from the Clerk about their status. Others were out of town and are not available to go through the curing process.