Wednesday, April 06, 2016

About 5000 Votes Still To Be Counted In Anchorage Election

I talked to the Municipal Deputy Election Clerk (that means she works in the Clerk's office and is the Deputy Clerk in charge of the elections) Amanda Moser this morning.  I had two questions:

1.  How come there were already 2076 votes already posted on the 20:03pm unofficial election results?  [Those results are no longer available online, but I put them up at that link.]  Where were these votes from?

2.  How many votes were still to be counted?

Let me answer Question 2 first.  It's a much shorter answer and comes up again in Question 1. There are about 5000 votes to be counted.  These include absentee by mail that came in yesterday and today (and will trickle in for a few more days), absentee in person, and questioned ballots.  Absentee in person means people voted at one of the polling places, like Loussac library, before the election.  Questioned votes are for people who voted out of their precincts or didn't have ID, or other irregularity that caused the precinct worker to have questions about the voter.

Question 1:  What were those 2076 votes already counted before any of the precincts had brought their boxes to election central?

Amanda Moser told me that these were absentee by mail votes that the Clerk's office had received BEFORE Tuesday.  The office decided that since they had them already, it might be interesting to just get them up right away after the election, so people would have some numbers to look at as soon as the polls closed.  I didn't remember that from previous elections and Moser confirmed they hadn't done that in previous elections.

You can see those early numbers in my first post from last night.  They were much more conservative than the actual outcome.

ASSEMBLY - DISTRICT 3 - SEAT DPERMAN, Ira 40 11.66%DARDEN, Dustin 11 3.21%CROFT, Eric 114 33.24%TROMBLEY, Adam 178 51.90%Write-in Votes 0 0.00%

Trombley was leading with 51.9% of the vote among these early voters.

In the last count, he got 33% to winner Croft's 45%.
ASSEMBLY - DISTRICT 4 - SEAT FALLEVA, Ron 111 39.78%TRAINI, Dick 164 58.78%Write-in Votes 4 1.43%

This race ended up Traini 62% to Alleva 35%.  Not as big a change.  
ASSEMBLY - DISTRICT 5 - SEAT HDUNBAR, Forrest 188 45.97%GALES, Terre 219 53.55%Write-in Votes 2 0.49%

Gales went from 53% over Dunbar's 45%  in this first set of ballots to Dunbar 60% and Gales 39% in the latest count.  

ASSEMBLY - DISTRICT 6 - SEAT JSCHIMSCHEIMER, Mark 76 13.82%WEDDLETON, John 170 30.91%TAYLOR, Treg 301 54.73%Write-in Votes 3 0.55%

The latest count in this race has Weddleton ahead 43% over Taylor's 40%.  Weddleton leads by 290 votes.  There are 5000 or so votes yet to count city wide.  The total counted so far is 43,000 and this Assembly race had 10,800 votes, just under 25%.  So, there are maybe 1200 votes left to be counted from the absentee by mail and in-person votes.  For Taylor to win, he'd need to get 300 more votes than Weddleton.  It would have to be at least 750 to 450.  Or, put another way, he'd have to pick up 62% of the remaining votes.  (And there was one more candidate in the race I'm not even considering.)   That's highly unlikely.  He didn't even have that big a margin in this early vote that was clearly leaning right.  

DAVIS, Bettye 840 44.03%
HUGHES, Brent 1050 55.03% Write-in Votes 18 0.94%

This one really turned around.  Davis won with 56% of the vote to 42%.  

SCHUSTER, Kay 693 37.77%
NEES, David 604 32.92%
MARSETT, Starr 519 28.28%

I didn't even know who Kay Schuster was.  Her website is pretty bland.  But there was a Republican Women's fundraiser for her at McGinley's pub with supporters including former Mayor Sullivan.  Nees has run as a  conservative in the past.  

The last count had Schuster with 35% and Marsett with 34%.  

This one is still too close to call.  With 5,000 votes outstanding in this city wide race , Marsett would have to get 40% of the remaining votes.  Not as big a challenge as Treg Taylor has in his Assembly race, but still a formidable challenge.  Particularly if the remaining votes - mostly absentee by mail or in person - have any sort of conservative leaning as the first set of absentee by mail votes had.  

So, either conservatives are more likely to vote by mail, or the Republicans did a better job of getting their voters to vote by mail.  In either case, that first set of votes we got last night had a significantly more conservative tinge than the eventual outcomes.  

Some other issues from yesterday's elections came up in my conversation with Amanda Moser, but I need to review my notes more carefully before I post on that.  It involves aging voting machines and memory cards which caused machines not to read people's cards the first, second, or third times, and required some complete recounting for some precincts.

[Blogger notes.  When I realized that answering Question 2 first made more sense, why didn't I just make that one Question 1?  Good question.  I thought about switching the question numbers around.  But Question 1 really was my first question, the one that got me to call the Clerk's office to ask.  

I'd also note that I did contribute to two of the candidates mentioned in this post.  I know old time journalists got taught that to remain impartial, they shouldn't ever contribute to a campaign.  Some even believe they shouldn't vote.  I already had trouble as an academic about having to use language that imagined that I was some objective observer who had no opinions.  Of course reporters have opinions.  Some can step back and write reasonably objectively and some can't.   I think it's better to just state your biases up front and let the reader consider how that bias might have impacted the story.  

In this case, my reporting on specific races is as objective as it can be - just citing numbers and probabilities.  And where I mention loaded words like ' conservative' and 'liberal,' I'm not voicing any opinion that hasn't been voiced already by people seen as on the left or on the right.  So I don't think it's necessary to mention the specific candidates I wrote checks for.  Readers who need to know, can look it up on the APOC website. I doubt it will be a surprise to regular readers.]

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