Anchorage election officials explain low vote count Tuesday night

Anchorage Election Officials explain low vote count Tuesday
Anchorage Election Officials explain low vote count Tuesday
Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 6:15 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage election officials are bringing more clarity to the process that led to a low vote count on Tuesday when the results from less than 11,000 ballots were released. Erika McConnell, Deputy Municipal Clerk, said several factors contributed including a large number of votes that were cast in the final days of the election.

“The most significant factor is how many ballots do we have at any given time,” said McConnell. “We had a lot of turnout this year which seemed to happen very late in the election. And we think that’s terrific, but when we get 10,000, 12,000, 13,000 ballots in a day, it takes us longer to finish all of those.”

McConnell said it normally takes 1 – 2 days to process a ballot. The steps include sorting envelopes in a machine that also takes a picture of the ballot envelope, including the signature. From there, workers check every signature twice to make sure it matches with those on record. After that, the envelopes are sorted again before another group of workers carefully remove each ballot from the envelope and its protective sleeve.

McConnell said by Tuesday evening, 30,000 ballots had made it past that point and had been scanned by a computer that can read the results. Scanning is one of the final steps before votes are tabulated on election night. But McConnel said if the computer sees something it doesn’t recognize — like a choice that’s been crossed out or a circle that isn’t filled out correctly — it will flag it and require human eyes.

According to McConnell, large batches of votes may be held up from being counted until a person, called an adjudicator, determines whether the ballot is good.

On Tuesday, McConnell said election officials were stretched thin attending to Vote Centers, which in some cases had record crowds, and simply didn’t have time to adjudicate all the ballots that were questionable.

“There are only three staff members who are authorized to do adjudication and we do our best to do it as quick as possible, but sometimes we are called away to address other matters as well,” said McConnell.

McConnell said election workers are slowly catching up. By Wednesday’s end, the number of ballots counted had jumped to 41,868.

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