Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fe NU me eye

If you've been reading the name Gail Fenumiai in the newspaper and wondering how to pronounce it, it's

Gay with an L.  Sorry, I couldn't resist.

It's Fe NU me eye - emphasis on the NU (the same rhythm as Tomato juice - toe MA toe juice.)

[UPDATE:  Kathy in Kentucky in a comment below asked who Gail Fenumiai is.  Somehow that slipped out as I was editing.  She's in charge of the Division of Elections in Alaska and running the count of the absentee and write-in votes in the US Senate race.  While she is the face the public sees, I have no doubt that higher-ups are participating in the decisions.]

I also have this picture of the person in charge of the Division of Elections,

The photo (she's talking after the meeting to Reps Seaton and Buch) is from a March 10 State Affairs Committee hearing which covered a bill to allow permanent absentee registration.

There is discussion of absentee ballots in a March 30 post where the State Affairs committee was getting an overview of the Division of  Elections from Fenumiai.  I don't think there is anything particularly relevant to the current write-in count, but it gives you a little more sense of Fenumiai and how the Division of Elections works.  Below is  my summary from the post.  The March 30 post has more details in my rough (very rough) notes of the exchange at the time.

The first item on the agenda was a presentation from Director of Division of Elections Gail Fenumiai (Fe (e as in let) Nú-Me-Eye).  The basic issues discussed were (see notes below for more details):
1.  Preventing Double Voting:  Fenumiai [discusses] procedures for making sure voters don't vote absentee and in person. 
2.  Rural and urban vote counting time differential.  People voting absentee in-person in regional centers - Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, and Nome - have their votes counted on election day.  Other absentee votes are not counted until 7-10 days after the election.  Rep. Seaton was concerned that since the parties often organize before all the votes are counted, rural legislators may be at a disadvantage in getting committee assignments, chair positions, etc. and wanted to know if there was a way to get the rural and urban area counts more balanced.
Rep. Johnson said he was concerned that they were involving the election board in party organization.  Seaton agreed that wasn't proper, and that the Division of Elections was doing its job as assigned by the legislature to be sure there was no voter fraud, and he wasn't asking about vote outcome, but was asking if the legislature's instructions to the Division of Elections had this unintended consequence of differential vote counting time in the rural and urban areas and if there was a way to correct this. 

3.  Voting Rights Act Compliance in Aftermath of Nick Case 
Rep. Gruenberg wanted to know whether the State was now fully compliant throughout the State after the settlement of the Nick case, which he said cost the State a million dollars just to pay the legal fees of the party that brought suit.  Fenumiai said she was confident the state was now in compliance and gave examples of things the Division has done. 


  1. now I know how to pronounce her name but not who she is, why her name has been in the newspapers, what the Nick case is, etc.

    for those of us outside Alaska, but who love keeping up with what's going on, please provide the two-sentence Reader's Digest version!

  2. Good question Kathy, I've updated the post with that info. (She's the head of the Division of Elections that is counting the absentee and write-in ballots in the US Senate race and making decisions about which ballots are or are not acceptable. (Sen. Lisa Murkowski lost the primary election to Joe Miller and so she decided to run a write-in campaign. Write-in won the election and now they are going through all the write-in votes to see whose name was written in and to be sure they are appropriate. Joe Miller's campaign insists that Murkowski must be spelled right, but the Division of Elections has said that 'the intent of the voter" must be clear, even if there are minor misspellings. See this Anchorage Daily News story for more.

  3. Gail Fenumiai's husband is Samoan, part of Juneau's growing Polynesian community. Most of the back lines of both of Juneau's high school football teams are Samoan or Tongan --- big guys.


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