Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Poll Watching In Anchorage and The List

I was surprised to see that the voting was just in the hallway at the entrance to the school I was sent to.  The whole time I was there people were walking through - lines of kids and other people.  At times the lines blocked voters from getting to the table to sign in and get their ballots.  When I got home, my wife said that's what happened at schools she worked at.  The polling places I've seen, until now, all had dedicated spaces for voting.  At the school today it felt like voting was, "well, if you need to vote, here you can have the hallway, but there will be lots of people going by and lots of noise.  That's the best we can do.  Sorry."  You could look through the windows in the hallway behind the voting table into the library.  I didn't see anyone in there all day.

It just seemed to treat voting as a low priority.  OK, it wasn't terrible.  But because the voting officials couldn't be certain who belonged there and who didn't, if someone wanted to mess with something, it would be easier.

The List (Kathy in Kentucky asked in the comments what the list is.  I've explained it in the comments)

About the list.  I did ask to see it. The had about three pages plus a cover sheet in plastic holders.  There were two columns of names on each page.  It seemed to be roughly in alphabetical order, but in chunks.  I looked for Lisa Murkowski, but didn't see it the first time.  So I asked to look again and then found it.

The polling place had just one list.  The election worker would try to stand to the side (not easy to do in the busy hallway) and show a voter who asked to see the list one page at a time.  It was totally useless.  The voter could not take the list to the voting booth or anywhere else.  Only three or four people asked to see the list while I was there (5 hours - about 200 voters) and it seemed like two just wanted to see it for the novelty of it, not because they needed it.  Another person, when told she couldn't take the list into the booth, just walked out without voting.

Like normal, the election workers were very professional.  When I left at 4:30pm only about 16% had put ballots into the voting machine (which had a counter.)  There were also ballots in another voting box, but these were questioned ballots - people who were not on the list.  From the State Election website:

Voters must vote a questioned ballot if:
  • their name is not on the precinct register;
  • they do not have identification;
  • their residence address has changed;
  • during the Primary Election the voter requests a ballot type they are not eligible to receive;
  • an observer challenges the voter's qualifications to vote; or
  • the voter has voted in another manner during the election.
Voters who vote a questioned ballot sign a questioned ballot register and place their voted ballot inside a questioned ballot envelope before placing it in the ballot box.
The information the voter provides on the outside of the envelope is used to determine what parts of the ballot can be counted and will also be used to register or update the voter’s registration record. When completing a questioned ballot envelope, write legibly.
Questioned ballot envelopes are reviewed by a review board to determine if the ballot can be counted prior to opening the envelope. To protect the secrecy of the ballot, the review board removes the secrecy sleeve containing the voted ballot from the questioned ballot envelope and once the envelopes have been set aside, the ballot is then removed from the secrecy sleeve.

The sun did come out and the ground was messy as I left. 


  1. I give up -- what's on The List???

  2. Sorry, Kathy.
    When Murkowski lost the primary, she decided to run as a write-in candidate. An issue was whether people could spell her name. The division of elections decided to make list of write-in candidates that it would give to voters who asked for it. This broke state regulations and was challenged. The Supreme Court of Alaska said it was ok to have a list. (In Alaska you have to be a certified write-in candidate in order to actually win.) Then a conservative talk show host encouraged his listeners to sign up to be a certified write-in candidate before the deadline last week.
    Over 150 people signed up before that deadline. So the list was all those people.


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