From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --
A review by the Anchorage Election Commission found that more than half of city precincts ran out of ballots in the trouble-plagued April 3 elections, according to a report unveiled today.
The commission is not, however, recommending a third-party investigation into the election or a new election.
"All indications are that ballot shortages for (certain ballot types) were the result of unintended error on the part of the Clerk's Office," the report concludes. "While this created chaos during the final hours of the mayoral election, the problem did not meet the standards of malconduct, fraud or reckless indifference on the part of anyone involved."
The commission has asked the Assembly to adopt its report and certify the election. Here's Assembly member Harriet Drummond reacting to the commission findings:
Many observers, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska and the city clerk, Barbara Gruenstein, have urged the Assembly to hire an investigator to uncover the problems behind the disorderly election.
Midtown Assemblywoman Elvi Gray-Jackson, who listened to the commission read the new report, said she's concerned the conclusions will prompt Assembly members to back away from launching a third-party investigation.
The commission, which interviewed poll workers and voters, "could only verify 33 voters who reported they were unable to vote" in the election, the report says.
Roughly 150 people reported problems to the city, including long lines at polling places, the use of sample ballots or photocopied ballots as makeshift substitutes and "balky" and "unreliable" voting machines, the report says.
The commission's findings that 65 of 121 Anchorage polling places temporarily ran out of ballots is higher than the previous total estimated by the clerk's office. Clerk's office employees previously estimated that ballots ran dry at about only one in three precincts.
In the new report, the commission found a variety of Election Day problems, including:
-- 65 precincts were out of all ballots for some period of time.
-- Precinct workers were given inconsistent guidance and information regarding the use of sample and photo-copied ballots.
-- Voters' inexperience using sample ballots to cast their votes caused "consternation" and delays.
The commission recommends hiring an additional city employee to work specifically on coordinating elections and hiring workers. The city has not had an employee dedicated primarily to those tasks since the departure of former Elections Coordinator Guadalupe Marroquin in 2009, said Assembly woman Harriet Drummond.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.