As Anchorage heads toward swearing in of new mayor, election officials begin wrapping up work

On a busy Friday, election workers were set to adopt their official election report
A public session of canvass takes place during the mayoral runoff election in Anchorage.
A public session of canvass takes place during the mayoral runoff election in Anchorage.(KTUU)
Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 9:46 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Friday was a busy day for election officials working at the municipal election center near Ship Creek in Anchorage, as the group continued efforts toward closing out the municipal mayoral runoff election with a public session of canvass.

First up Friday afternoon was a special meeting of the election commission to adopt its reports from the public session of canvass regarding the recounts for Anchorage School Board seats B and E, which were part of the regular April 6 election. The certification of those race results was initially set for a special meeting of the Anchorage Assembly on May 18, but that didn’t happen than because the election commission hadn’t officially adopted the report to present to the assembly body.

Now, the certification is set for May 25, so that Friday’s meeting to adopt the required report could take place.

After the school board report discussions, an hours-long worksession centered on the mayoral runoff was next. Running past its projected end time of 4 p.m., the public session of canvass started late, delayed until around 5:45 p.m. instead of 5 p.m.

Still, more than a dozen people arrived shortly after 5 p.m. to be part of the observing process as the commission reviewed challenged ballot envelopes. This was part of the effort to make final decisions on the adjudication of challenged ballot envelopes for the mayoral runoff, an election for which 90,720 total ballots had been tallied as of Friday evening.

Several members of the public submitted challenge forms and testified at the start of the public session of canvass. People were also allowed to challenge information throughout the duration of the session, which was scheduled to run between 5-7 p.m., but would go as long as it took to analyze all the ballots.

Though the commission was expected to officially adopt an election commission report for the mayoral runoff Friday, that report centered on rejected ballots, and not positive confirmed ones. As such, Friday’s counts are not final, since a handful of overseas and military ballots, as well as several directed to be counted, had yet to be added. Ballots sent from overseas have until May 25 to arrive at the election center and be counted.

Counts of the last few remaining ballots will continue in the next couple of days, the Anchorage Municipal Clerk said, and the election results are scheduled to be certified at the next regular meeting of the assembly, which has been set for 6 p.m. next Tuesday, May 25.

The latest election results directly from the municipality, which were disseminated Friday evening, showed little change from the day before – with just 93 more ballots counted – and had Dave Bronson remaining in the lead against Assembly Member Forrest Dunbar. Bronson held steady at about 50.7% of counted ballots, with 45,889 votes, while Dunbar had received 44,698 votes, or about 49.3% of the total.

Results released Thursday evening had Bronson in the lead with 45,847 of the total counted votes, also adding up to about 50.7% of the tally. Dunbar held 44,647 ballots submitted in his favor that same day, also at the same percentage as Friday.

The two men are the last standing in a mayoral election that began with 15 different candidates at the start of the race. Friday evening, Bronson declared victory and Dunbar conceded the race.

The election commission had not yet adopted its report by the time of publication.

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