By AlaskaWatchman.com

Anchorage vote pic

Municipal Clerk Barbara Jones wants to change the way the city conducts its elections. She was angered during the mayoral race this past spring, claiming in a report to the Anchorage Assembly that there were too many election observers who slowed down the tabulation process with questions and objections to how she and her staff conducted the election.

Anchorage Municipal Clerk Barbara Jones

Now Jones wants the Assembly to alter election law by giving her more power to restrict the activity of observers. On Dec. 21, the Assembly will hold a second public hearing on the proposed changes.

If approved, they would limit who can assist a voter in casting a vote. In particular, it states that a friend cannot help a voter if they are also the voter’s employer, an official from the voter’s union, a candidate for office in the election or a campaign worker for a candidate.

Additionally, the proposed revisions would force campaigns to register election observers at least 22 days before a regular election and 18 days before a runoff election.

Other changes include prohibiting election observers from recording images, sound or taking photos within all polling locations, the vote center or return locations. There is no mention of the live video feed at the election center, which the clerk turns off each night. Mayor Dave Bronson has called for the camera and feed to remain on and accessible to the public 24/7 throughout the vote tabulation period in order to maximize transparency.

With regard to the conduct of election observers, the revised code would forbid observers from asking questions of any election official other than the municipal clerk or her designee, and it explicitly states that observers “shall follow instructions” of the clerk or her designees, while limiting the number of questions observers can ask about the voting process or handling of ballot envelopes.

TAKING ACTION

— The next Anchorage Assembly meeting is scheduled for Dec. 21, 5 p.m., at the Assembly Chambers in the lower level of the Loussac Library. Click here for information on how to participate.

— Click here to read the proposed revisions to election code.

— Click here to email or call Anchorage Assembly members.

— To contact Mayor Dave Bronson, call (907) 343-7100 or email Dave.bronson@anchorageak.gov.

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Anchorage set to empower clerk to restrict election observers

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 20 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.