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September 27, 2021

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Former Anchorage Election Coordinator Calls for Full Hand Count of Paper Ballots

 

Well respected former Anchorage Municipal Election Coordinator, Guadalupe Marroquin, recently wrote an open letter to members of the Anchorage Assembly regarding the recent badly botched Municipal election in Anchorage. Her excellent letter (edited for length) also ran in the Anchorage Daily News as a compass piece. Below is the full unedited text of her original letter.

She has added her voice to that of former Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller in expressing the seriousness with which we should regard all issues of election integrity. And Ms. Marroquin has stated that in her expert opinion, this election needs a full hand recount of all paper ballots. 

Clearly, Marroquin’s statement coupled with Miller’s puts to rest any notion that issues with the integrity of this election are partisan, or that they are “sour grapes” from the losing side. The Assembly simply must not certify this election until a full audit of election materials, and a hand recount of all the paper ballots is done. 

The “nothing to see here” attitude of the Election Commission is even more troubling now.

There is a special meeting of the Anchorage Assembly Thursday, May 3, at 5pm in the Loussac Library,  in which the Assembly will decide whether to certify the April 3 Municipal election.]

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Dear Members of the Anchorage Assembly,

The recent shortage of available ballots at voting precincts was the result of intentional failed planning, judgment, and execution on the part of the Municipal Clerk’s Office. After the ballot shortage situation was discovered on Election Day between 1:30pm – 5:00pm, there was an opportunity to respond. Up to 20 personnel (12 Troubleshooters & 8 in-house staff, according to the Clerk’s testimony during the Friday work-session) were available and on stand-by to distribute additional ballots from the 60,000+ ballots stored in the Clerk’s vault at City Hall to the 65 precincts in need – this was not carried out. The Clerk’s office was unable to neither manage the initial election nor execute a recovery; and, as a result, an unknown and unknowable number of people were disenfranchised.

Common sense dictates that each voting location begin the day with sufficient ballots plus an extra 10 – 20% based upon an analysis of past voting records, the number of registered voters per precinct, the anticipated turnout due to high profile ballot issues and the high turnout associated with most mayoral races.

The intent must be to never turn voters away at the polls or otherwise disenfranchise them. Plan, analyze, and distribute more ballots than needed at every precinct. The planning should always aim for and prepare for high voter turnout, as well as anticipate a response to slight shortages. This is how every election has been run in Anchorage history. An election worker stated in the news that during training the Deputy Clerk announced there would be fewer ballots distributed this year compared to previous elections. Her statement demonstrated a clear and deliberate plan to short the precincts. This was not an oversight; the shortage of ballots was intentional. This is unacceptable.

This event opened up a Pandora’s box, publicly revealing our recently weakened ballot testing practices (2010), our on-site election disaster planning, among other unknowns – that now question what affects our results, and more. This will also open the door to examining ballot testing requirement changes made by Alaska Statute that now affect the Municipality of Anchorage. This is an opportunity to clean up all of these critical issues before both the November 2012 and next MOA elections.

Furthermore, it doesn’t matter how many people were actually able to take the time and speak to the election commission to prove whether or not this is a problem – all that matters is that they showed up on Election Day.

Having your right to vote taken away from you IS a very serious problem that cannot be marginalized and swept under the rug. Hundreds of emails and many personal accounts are demonstrative of a serious issue. The people that testify and speak out usually represent a mere fraction of those affected. It’s one thing to “hear of” people who were turned away at the polls; it’s quite another to have several of my own personal friends speak to me about their experience of traveling to four or more precincts in a vain effort to cast their vote.

In addition, the Election Commission is not an investigative body of experts, they are just election workers who volunteered to be on the commission to follow a very short, specific set of code to determine what absentee & question ballots are counted. Since they are experienced election workers (some not so much) they do make suggestions that might improve the process. There are no prerequisites to serve on the election commission other than to be a registered voter and have poll worker experience. They are not knowledgeable or experienced enough about the entire process to make judgments. Since they work under the direct supervision of the Clerk, they cannot be objective. Based upon reports I have heard and read, the entire encounter seemed more like a one to one therapy session. In addition, Ms. Duke should not have been present to oversee this process. Her presence as the defensive person in power interfered with a process where citizens were sharing their personal perspectives and should have been allowed to speak freely.

Most importantly, any board or commission conducting an accountability review should not able to audit themselves – this is an obvious and complete conflict of interest.

Ballot programming integrity is also a serious concern. In 2010, the Municipal Clerk’s office removed the most important test group, the Data Processing Review Board. This group was made of IT professionals, who hand marked test ballots to intentionally challenge ballot programming for every race in every precinct, monitored the elections and then performed hand counts of 8 precincts on election night to compare totals to the AVOS. The loss of this critically important part of the process, removed by the Municipal Clerk’s office; combined with the 2012 Election’s careless and negligent treatment of an inordinate number of security seals protecting the AVOS memory cards, results in questionable ballot count totals.

It is my opinion that the only way to salvage and certify the 2012 election results, after all that has happened, is to perform a full hand count of every precinct’s ballots.

It’s taken me some time to write this email. I have been inspired by the many who stood up and told their stories. You, as members of the Assembly, must recognize how intimidating your position makes you to the average citizens of our city; and I appreciate that in this meaningful public discussion that we can all come together for our common concern, our right to vote. We need to thank our voters for coming forward and understand their experience. My track record running the MOA elections is well known and trusted. The manner in which Election 2012 was run – was completely unacceptable.

I am available for questions and would like the opportunity to make recommendations in order to restore trust in our elections.

Sincerely,
Guadalupe Marroquin
former Deputy Clerk, Election Coordinator/Budget Liaison, 2003 – 2009

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8 Responses to “Former Anchorage Election Coordinator Calls for Full Hand Count of Paper Ballots”
  1. Alaska Pi says:

    I hope Ms Marroquin’s remarks are taken seriously, especially those made about past planning and methodology, as well as the problem with Ms Duke being involved in the review process at the level she has.
    To me, Ms Duke has had her hand in too many de-briefing, review , and oversight questions surrounding this election. This woman’s defense of her job and actions has a place somewhere in the process but she does not belong front and center of any review as the reviewer.
    Friends and family in ANC know I get cranky about the effect the MOA has on state politics and elections. Quite frankly I get really ticked about the “tyranny of the metropolitan majority” 🙂 as it relates to too many of the rest of us getting lost in the shuffle on issues which affect us differently than ANC.
    I’ve been thinking a great deal since this election about all that. This was a local election in a home rule muncipality and at some level none of my business , at other levels very much my business.
    A full hand recount of ballots is a place to start, a very serious consideration of citizen complaints of disenfranchisement is necessary, and real and impartial ( as possible) consideration of a re-do is paramount.
    The attempts to accept the results so far turn on inconsequential grounds- the presumed outcome of the seats and issues on this ballot. Of most importance is whether mismangement of the process, intentional as Ms Marroquin asserts, or unintentional as the election folks seem to be trying to say, resulted in failures to allow qualified voters to exercise their right to vote and broke the “chain of custody” on the voting machines.
    The rest of us out here across the state have to trust the results MOA posts about state issues and state offices. At this point I do not.
    And we have a statewide election this fall.

    • Zyxomma says:

      As you said, you’re not an Anchorage resident, so some may consider it none of your business. Well, I’m on a tiny (but mighty) island adjacent to the other edge of the continent, and I have an interest, too (I signed the petition that was delivered yesterday afternoon). How unlikely is it that the Anchorage election was a test case to see how the citizens of a little city in a huge, but not populous state would react to being unable to vote? Alaska residents are notoriously well-armed.

      As for Jacqueline Duke, I’d sooner trust my vote to Gene Chandler (the Duke of Earl) than she.

  2. PollyinAK says:

    I appreciate Ms Marroquin speaking up. A recount would be great, but a re-do would be better. A lot of voters “gave up”. However, a hundred or so votes, either way. may not affect the outcome. A recount, thorough investigation, and reinstating the Data Processing Review Board before the next election is very important. The current administration including the Municipal Clerk’s Office is being “shady”.. I believe that since the election went awry, there should have been immediate measures by the Mayor to resolve the issues, enact an investigation, restore public confidence; not all these hearings, testimonies, and long drawn out debates. What’s up with that? Absolutely zero leadership.

  3. Kath the Scrappy says:

    OT kinda, but I think where we can all see where the voter suppression leads:

    Viviette Applewhite

    Viviette Applewhite is 93 years old and has voted in nearly every election for the last 60 years. She marched with Martin Luther King Jr in . She has tried for years to obtain Photo ID, to no avail. Under Pennsylvania’s new Voter ID law, Miss Applewhite’s vote will not be counted. She is a plantiff in our lawsuit to stop Voter ID.

  4. AKblue says:

    Thank you, Ms Marroquin, for your efforts on behalf of honest elections.
    I am wondering what your experience was concerning the seals, which Ms Duke said were easily broken. To me, that is as important an issue as the shortage of ballots.

  5. carol wolfe says:

    THANK YOU Lupe for coming forward with this letter and your experience and knowledge of MOA voting system to weigh in on this critical issue. Your input is highly valued and critical to ensure honest, fair and reliable elections.

  6. Sourdough Mullet says:

    Glad to see that, but I don’t think it goes nearly far enough. After making such an eloquent case for the fact that so many voters were disenfranchised and not able to cast a ballot, and for the fact that the safeguards of previous elections had been discarded, and for how it’s fairly clear that there may have been malicious intent to taint this election as well as the followup investigation, WHY does Ms. Marroquin only call for a hand count of the ballots from this (seriously FUBAR-ed) election. That would not address the breadth of the problems with this election. Why doesn’t she call for a re-do, with sufficient ballots AND a hand count? Would it be THAT difficult or costly? Can we afford NOT to considering?

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  1. […] Former Anchorage Municipal Election Coordinator Guadalupe Marroquin recently wrote an open letter to members of the Anchorage Assembly regarding the botched April 3 Anchorage Municipal election. Her letter (edited for length) also ran as a Compass piece in the Anchorage Daily News. Below is the full unedited text of her original letter (also posted last night at The Mudflats). […]



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