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September 2, 2014

Election Commissioner and Poll Worker Clash at Assembly Meeting – “That’s a lie!”

Tensions ran high at last night’s Assembly meeting, held to certify the badly botched Municipal election of April 3, 2012. The most intense moment came when Gwen Mathew, the Anchorage Election Commissioner, testified to the Assembly about the issue of broken security seals on the Diebold AccuVote machines on the day of the election. Mathew stated that she had received no report “at all, anywhere, of a seal being broken.”

Wendy Isbell, a poll worker who had reported a broken seal multiple times in testimony, in writing, and by interview, to the Assembly, her precinct chair, and the Election Commission itself, happened to be present in the room last night and called the Commissioner a liar during the meeting. The Chair, who had originally thanked Isbell for her service during her first testimony to the Assembly,  called security to escort her out of the building. Since last night’s meeting, Isbell was told by Assembly member Jennifer Johnston that the Election Commissioner who interviewed her backed up her story.

This is Isbell’s testimony about broken seals at the Assembly meeting on April 17, 2012.

Hi, my name is Wendy Isbell. I worked at the polls. I worked at Romig Junior High. I went to the training that Jacqueline Duke did, where she said if the seals were broken on the AccuVote machines, it’s OK. I have seen this, not only on this occasion, but at a different election I worked with that seal, at the end of the evening when you open up the AccuVote machine to… from the paper, to finish the night out… they’ve been broken before. They’re cut – completely cut. It’s not like these zip ties – these red zip ties – come off. And this is also not the fist time I’ve been told, “Just slip it back on. If it falls off, just slip it back on.” You know, I didn’t really think much of it until this election, and I’m quite concerned. I worked the polls because everyone who works my district is very elderly, and it’s my turn to step up and become that person who works at the polls. And I don’t ever want to have the job I did questioned, because I really firmly believe it is my civic duty to do that.

After her testimony, Isbell was called back to the podium by Chair Ernie Hall to answer questions.

Hall:
First, let me thank you for your service at the polling station. It was greatly appreciated. I have questions from Mr. Honeman and Mr. Flynn.

Assembly member Paul Honeman:
Thank you for committing your time to a very important process in our community. And my question is did you prepare any comments to give to the precinct chair or to the Clerk’s office, or to the Election Commission? Was there any report?

Isbell:
I did. I wrote them. They give you a piece of paper to do that, and so I wrote those and turned it in with the rest of the box they gave to the chairperson. Now, what happens to those, I don’t know. And it’s optional to put your name on those.

Honeman:
Did you put your name on it?

Isbell:
I believe I did.

Her spoken testimony before the Assembly reveals that she first reported the problem on election night, when she wrote the incident down on a piece of paper, and put it in a box with others that went to the precinct chair of the polling place where she worked.

Four days later, Isbell showed up again at the special “public” meeting of the Anchorage Election Commission, which was arranged so that voters and poll workers sat in private, one-on-one meetings with Election Commissioners, who heard their testimony. Isbell was interviewed by Election Commissioner Alyce Hanley, and was not given a copy of her testimony. In an email exchange between Isbell and Assembly member Jennifer Johnston, Johnston said that she had talked to Hanley, who remembered Isbell and confirmed her testimony.

Isbell was interviewed the day of the meeting by Casey Grove of the Anchorage Daily News about her testimony.

Among those who did show up was Wendy Isbell, an election worker who also testified at Tuesday’s Assembly meeting. Isbell says she saw voting machines with broken seals, plastic pieces designed to prevent someone from tampering with a memory card that counts votes.

“I don’t see how they broke,” Isbell said. “They’re impossible to break. They were evenly cut.”

When another worker asked about the broken seals, Isbell says Deputy Municipal Clerk Jacqueline Duke told the worker, “If they’re broken, don’t worry about it.”

The article went on to relay Duke’s comments on the broken seals.

Any evidence of fraud could easily be rooted out with a recount, Duke said. She also said Isbell’s retelling of her instruction about the broken voting machine seals was incomplete.

“What I said was, ‘If you open up on election morning, and you see it’s clearly broken from transport, don’t worry, I have extras,” Duke said.

The plastic is “flimsy,” she said, and can break easily. That’s not evidence of vote fraud, she said.

“I think perhaps people are unhappy with the (election) results, and they’ll find anything they can,” Duke said.

After the Deputy Clerk’s accusation that Isbell was simply complaining because she was unhappy with the result of the election, Isbell received criticism. Distressed, she returned to the Assembly to testify yet again about the seals being broken.

This is Isbell’s testimony at the Assembly meeting of 4/24/12:

I’m here again to address the broken seals on the AccuVote machines. I did the right thing – my civic duty – by volunteering to be an election worker. And I did the right thing by coming forward with evidence of the broken plastic seals. And I did the right thing by testifying in front of the Assembly last week. And I did the right thing by coming in and having my testimony written down on Saturday. And I took an oath at election training, and another oath on election day. And now my honesty and integrity are being questioned publicly by Jacqueline Duke. As a result of this, it’s been suggested online that I’m a shill, pushing forward a partisan agenda, or worse, tampering with the AccuVote machines.

I assure you, I’m nothing more than a stay at home mom. I’m a veteran. I served my country. And I volunteer. I just want to make my community a better place for my children, and my fellow Alaskans.

Those plastic seals placed on those AccuVote machines are our only guarantee that there’s been no tampering with those cards. In our training manuals (holds up a manual) this one here, it states: “Make sure the small silver bar covering the memory card on the front of the AccuVote unit is sealed, and the seal is not broken.” That’s a quote right out of this book, on page 7. It doesn’t say what to do if you find a broken seal.

At training, when asked, Jacqueline Duke’s instructions about the broken seals seemed to show little regard for the integrity of the AccuVote machines. We rely on the seals so that we don’t have to rely on the word of election officials such as Jacqueline Duke. Those seals are the only guarantee we have that the election workers from the absolute top, to the poll workers at the bottom, don’t tamper with those cards. To certify the election without resolving the issue of those seals leaves the public with no confidence in the integrity of this election. The broken seals are evidence that cannot be ignored. Thank you.

Isbell confirms in this testimony to the Assembly on April 24, her participation in the Saturday session of private testimony with an Election Commissioner who had taken down her statement. She again mentioned the broken seals and her concern about the integrity of the AccuVote system.

To summarize:

  • Isbell submitted her comments about the broken seal on Election night in writing to the precinct Chair, April 3, 2012
  • She submitted public testimony to the Assembly at the meeting of April 17, 2012 (above)
  • She submitted testimony to the Election Commission at the meeting of April 21, 2012
  • She submitted public testimony to the Assembly at the meeting of April 24, 2012 (above)

The story of her testimony to the Election Commission, which Mathew chairs, was even reported in the Anchorage Daily News.

~Isbell testifying about broken seals to an Election Commissioner (photo by Mel Green, Bent Alaska)

Isbell also happened to be present at the special meeting of the Assembly last night on Thursday, May 3, where the body ultimately voted to certify the election. Gwen Mathew was asked to be present and to answer questions from the Assembly. Assembly member Debbie Ossiander asked Mathew about the Diebold AccuVote machines. This is part of the response from Mathew, when asked about the AccuVote machines.

Mathew: By the way, we’ve had no report at all, anywhere, of a seal being broken. That was not the concern, at least at the time of the Chairman’s report or the interviews that we held.

Ossiander: I was under the impression that one seal was broken. You found no seals broken?

Mathew: In our interviews… in the emails that came in…

Isbell: That’s a lie. That’s a lie! I reported it. I reported it to her. At the Loussac Library, I reported a broken seal. Obviously you threw that away. It’s a lie, a lie!

Mathew: That was hearsay. That was hearsay. That was not a personal…

Isbell: It’s not hearsay! I was there! I saw it. It’s a lie. I reported it as I was supposed to report it, and they didn’t give it to you, or you didn’t write it down.

Assembly Chair Ernie Hall: Security!

Isbell: (on her way out) Thanks. I’m such a threat…

Hall: Are you done Miss Ossiander?

Ossiander: I know however this evening goes, there will be more discussion about these machines. I’m actually eager to look into that.

The Mudflats’ Linda Kellen Biegel, and Bent Alaska’s Mel Green talked to Mathew after the meeting. Biegel asked Mathew about her use of the term “hearsay.”

“She was there and saw it herself. How can that possibly be hearsay? What is your definition of hearsay? She told the commissioner who filled out the paperwork, and you’re saying that you had no report of it?” she asked.

Biegel reports that Mathew “shrugged it off and said she didn’t see it.” Biegel then said, “But I thought you said you’ did but it but it was hearsay! Which is it?”

Green told Mathew she was ashamed of her, and that she had lied.

This confrontation was apparently enough that Mathew was then escorted through the parking lot and to her car by two security guards – the same security guards that had been called twice that night by Ernie Hall to silence and remove a voter, and an election worker from the meeting.

Mr. Hall, who left the building unescorted, was also approached by unhappy voters as he headed to his car.

 

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29 Responses to “Election Commissioner and Poll Worker Clash at Assembly Meeting – “That’s a lie!””
  1. John says:

    Watching the assembly meeting was nothing less than astounding. In addition to the obvious lie about no report of a seal being broken, she admitted that poll workers tamper with ballots. If a ballot won’t scan in the “diablo” machine, they mark a new ballot and run that one through. How often to they mistakenly fill in the wrong circles when doing that?

    And to suggest that no one had a motive for trying to change the election? Hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign money was spent before the election trying to do just that. Apparently lots of people had a motive. The only question is whether someone was willing to do anything dishonest to achieve that goal. Well, at least one person lied at the assembly meeting……..

  2. merrycricket says:

    I haven’t been commenting on the election posts because I am too stunned to do so. I can not begin to put words to what is going on inside my head. This just isn’t right. I volunteer to do election protection at the polls to help ensure that every one who is eligible to vote is allowed to so so and when they are denied that right, I send them in the right direction to get it rectified. This mess, is nothing short of a nightmare. Please don’t ever stop reporting on this and don’t back down.

  3. whoami says:

    The Air Force, Army, and Alaska National Guard from JBER must be so proud of the election in their “hometown” whilst they are away fighting for other countries’ right to vote.

  4. Picolina says:

    What the Right Wing is doing is trying to create a false narrative that Obama does not have as much support as he did in 08. They are laying the foundation for the theft of the election. If they can repeat enough the false story that voters are no longer behind him, then it will be that much easier to convince the mass public that pre- and post-election polls were wrong and that the final, uncertifiable results on the e-voting machines are accurate. The latest round of ALEC written voter suppression laws will disenfranchise millions of Obama voters. The lack of impartial oversight during the elections and the stridently pro-republican Diebold machines can work together to change the results of any election, as we just saw demonstrated in the Anchorage election.

    The only way to get around these tactics is to bring out massive, well-publized support for the President. Support so mighty and strong that any falsified election result would be immediately questioned.

    Best way for this to occur? For Biden to exit stage left, and for Obama to bring on Hillary as his running mate. Not only would that re-invigorate his base and bring out all the supporters in favor of truly qualified female candidates, but it would set up Hillary to run in 2016.
    Obama has to come out strong in this race, much stronger than he did in 2008, and partnering with Hillary is the best way to do it.

    Otherwise the combination of Diebold machines, GOP-led recent gerrymandering, relatively paltry amount of positive press coverage on Obama’s successes, voter suppression laws, destruction and illegalization of voter organizations like ACORN nationwide and League of Womens Voters in Florida will make it all too easy for the GOP in November to repeat the 2000 and 2004 thefts. And, as long as they can create the false narrative that the public grew tired of Obama, the mass media and public will accept the election results.

    He’s got to go big, or he will go home. And the entire world will suffer.
    Obama/Hillary in 2012.

  5. Man_from_Unk says:

    Election fraud is here there and everywhere in Alaska. Thanks to all to stand up against the unfair practices of people who will control at any cost.

  6. Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

    I don’t understand why people are dancing around the clear and obvious accusation that election fraud is the issue here and that the assembly and the commission are complicit in it. Where is wickersham or some other legal pundit on this issue? For my own part I have referred people on other blogs to the saga as documented by AKM from Apr. 3 onwards and I hope they will look at it, if they don’t I will prod them again. This is not trivial, it is fundamental. You need to get some legal means mobilized to injunct the destruction of the paper ballots and freeze all the available evidence.
    The only way I can see that you can do this is to invoke the DOJ and the FEC and make a lot of noise.

    One has to ask is there any other unifying characteristic of the assembly members who so blatently endorsed an obviously fraudulent process beyond their apparently vested interest in self preservation? That is to say, is it even remotely possible that they all belong to the same religious cult that pervades so much of Alaska politics?

    Good night, and good luck,

    • Pinwheel says:

      Kubozuka Nyanko:

      I, too, worry about the destruction of the ballots. If DOJ/FEC has not been enjoined, we (Anchorage registered voters) are shit out of luck, I fear.

      Personally, vested self intersest, preservation and gutlessness is what has been demonstrated by the majority of our Council.

  7. Stef Gingrich says:

    Alyce Hanley is a Prevo protege. She ran unsuccessfuly for the Assembly in 1980, her campaign literature was printed by the ABT press. A typical Sullivan appointee.

  8. 1smartcanerican says:

    :( hangs head and sighs :(

    This is such a frustratingly sad story of a rigged election – and one that can be seen to be rigged, but still gets certified through the system in place.

    How can we get honest elections back? I’m so upset with all this.

    I am, however, very proud of Ms. Isbell. She deserves all the accolades given and yet to come. She is a true hero.

  9. TS says:

    It seems to be the way of treating people who tell the truth against ANY government officials. Shame them, lie about them and have the world of horrible rumors, mistruths and LIES spread the false stories. It was how ACORN was demolished – how John Kerry was defeated – and how so many who speak the truth have had their lives ruined.

    It seems you need the political affiliations of a President to be able to overcome the lying, cheating, disgusting behavior of low level sycophants living on government paychecks while proclaiming we don’t need government. Strange how they rely on security paid for by government to keep them safe.

  10. Moose Pucky says:

    It seems well documented that the Anchorage election commissioner needs to be replaced with someone who can be both competent and courteous.

  11. Gwen Mathew, on whose report, as chair of the Election Commission, the Assembly relied to decide whether or not to certify this horrible election, should resign immediately.

    Her blatant lie in response to Ms. Isbell last night was shameful. Her clear misunderstanding (or similarly blatant lies) about the Diebold systems last night should similarly disqualify her from being any where near an election or an Assembly forever more.

    Between Mathew and Jacqueline Duke, I feel very sorry for the voters of Anchorage and the democracy they used to, but clearly no more, seem to have.

    Both should immediately resign so that public servants interested in serving the *voters* — not serving Mayor Sullivan or Diebold or whoever those two think they are working for — can be appointed in their stead.

    Shame. And shame on those Assembly members who threw the voters, and democracy, under the bus last night.

  12. Zyxomma says:

    Thank you, Ms. Isbell, and everyone else who spoke out (or tried to). I signed Ms. Isbell’s petition, and I’m about as far away from Anchorage as it’s possible to be without leaving the US.

  13. Celia Harrison says:

    I thank everyone who spoke out for their courage and those who documented this assembly meeting.

  14. AKblue says:

    I was at Loussac Library loudly clapping for Ms. Isbell last night.
    Ms. Matthews is either ignorant of important testimony previously given (more than once), or willing to lie about it. In either case it is yet another reason she should be out of a job.
    Thanks, AKM, Ms. Isbell, and all the others for your vigilance and efforts for honest elections.

  15. margarita mixxe says:

    It is appalling. The lack of ethics and the lies and coverup makes me sick. I am emailing the assembly and letting them know how disgusted I am.

  16. Millie says:

    I watched the Assembly meeting on TV and was absolutely pissed to watch the lies and coverup that took place! Our new Assembly Chair needs to be closely watched by all voters in Anchorage! Some of the Assembly members appeared to be totally rehearsed in their commentary – - beginning w/Starr and then Ossiander. No wonder people don’t trust government anymore! Anchorage and Alaska have become the laughing stock of the nation. Don’t the folks in office know that video of events is ALWAYS available which can prove them to be liars! And, then they continue to lie – and require security? Give me a f—— break!

    • Zyxomma says:

      No, Millie. The rest of the country does not laugh at Anchorage or Alaska because of this. I’m sure I join progressives and patriots all over this nation in my worry that the Anchorage municipal election was a test case — a trial balloon — in disenfranchising voters. As someone who has voted in every election, primary or general, since 18-year-olds first won the vote in 1972, I have grave concerns (I even went to my polling place last Election Day, only to find out there was no voting in my election district that day).

      A “large” city in a small (population) state is a perfect test case. I’m afraid that unless Anchorage takes to the streets with pitchforks and torches, this may happen in other (less well-armed) districts all over the USA come November.

      I hope I’m mistaken.

      • Millie says:

        I’m not sure we are even from the same city in Alaska! Alaska is truly laughed at – due to the likes of the idiot Sarah Palin from Wasilla, AK. And, then we have to take a look at the Assembly and City of Anchorage and Mayor Sullivan? Give me a friggin break! Alaska is a total mess – Republican led beginning w/Parnell, who has been proven to be in bed w/the oil companies. I’m so happy our Senate/Alaska Legilsature asked so many questions which proved Parnell’s gang didn’t even know what the hell they were talking about!

        Just try and show me (and others!) that Alaska govenment is above board!!!! It’s not in any way, shape or form!

      • Pinwheel says:

        Zyx…: I think you have it correctly. Anchorage is a perfect petri dish for one application of voter disenfranchisement. But, now, you see, summer is upon Alaska and lots of Alaskans are off to do whatever.

        Unfortunately, without coordination, outrage disperses. An election later this summer is to determine party candidates for the State Legislature. However, currently Alaska has not adjudicated new legislative representation. The Alaska State Legisladoture is up for grabs this November, friends.

        What do you think? November votes Alaska, religion or not at all!!

        • beaglemom says:

          I fear that this is true. Between the Diebold voting machines that can be so easily tampered with and the refusal of one political party to participate honestly and honorably in elections, we will see thrown elections like this more and more frequently. Gore v. Bush gave the Republican Party not only the White House but inspiration for decades to come.

      • Elizabeth says:

        I’m not laughing, that’s for sure. The only difference between us and you may be one persistent poll worker. Bless her heart. That all of us would stand up so strongly for the honesty of our election process.

  17. Elstun W. Lauesen says:

    Wendy Isbell deserves her own T-Shirt and the 1st Annual 2012 Truth To Power Award from the Alaska Heritage Foundation…uh…when we get it together, that is ;))

  18. Alaska Pi says:

    I took a walk this morning. The air is sweet with the smell of new growth – we’re ahead of you a bit.
    We’re having a cold rain which keeps dropping a smidge of snow on the mt tops at the same time it sets off avalanches.
    I’m back.
    I read this.
    Ms Mathew – you are not competent.
    Ms Isbell- thank you.
    AKM, Linda, Mel- I’m standing with you.
    I may have to leave for a few minutes , I feel like retching, but I’ll be back.

    Sweet merry and holy moley, ANC- rewrite that naive and foolish election law you have and be sure to extend the failure to take into account that Muni personnel may not:

    “Use official position to discourage or inhibit any person from exercising voter franchise.”

    in your code of ethics but apparently they may do so out of bumbling, inefficiency. There probably ought to be a law :-)

  19. Mel Green says:

    Ah sorry, I see you included it later in the story than when I posted that link just now. Thanks for a very thorough report! I was personally so angered by Gwen Mathew’s lie that after last night’s meeting I questioned her about it, and ended by telling her to her face that I was ashamed of her.

  20. Mel Green says:

    And here’s my somewhat blurry photo of Wendy Isbell talking with an Election Commissioner on April 21. http://www.flickr.com/photos/henkimaa/6953868386/

    Two photos next to that one in my Flickr photostream show her talking with Casey Grove of the Anchorage Daily News.

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