Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Election Mechanics At City Hall Go Smoothly As Assembly Power Appears To Have Shifted

Last year I worked in a polling place for the Municipal election and reported on the election from that perspective.  Things went fairly well until we tried to take the ballots to city hall where things were terribly backed up.  This year I worked at city hall.  Things went much more smoothly.

Station one was at the guard's desk - people signed in (and were marked off on a master list of precincts) and got a checklist that they took to the other stations.

Station 1 near entrance from parking lot

I think this is the first precinct to arrive - Elmendorf's Mt. Spur.  They're fairly close to downtown and they said they didn't have many voters.  They were there about 8:30 pm - 30 minutes after the polls closed.

Station 2 was at the other end of the lobby in City Hall.  Last year there were people lined up outside in the cold waiting to get in (see picture here).
  This year there was much more room inside the building to go to Station 2 where they cut off the metal seals from the Accu-Voter machines and removed the card with the data on it.  The workers wrote down the number of the seal on the checklist and initialed that they'd been checked in.

The picture shows them setting up with Station 2 by the third elevator bay.  From there they take their cart back and down a long hallway - which kept things from backing up outside.

Station 3 was the door to the room where the contents of the bags were checked.  I think they took the black bags with the voted ballots and got them stacked up. 

Station 4 was right at that point as well.  At 4 they took the box with the unused ballots.

Finally Station 5 was where they checked and sorted the contents of the big blue bags and the green and red bags inside.  This included things like the tally of the number of voters, number of ballots used, any spoiled ballots, and left over ballots.  All the numbers are supposed to match.  The people at the desks were not asked to check all the math, but to see that things were filled out.  Other items included payroll sheets for poll workers and miscellaneous items like death certificates for people who needed to be purged from the rolls.  (I saw that one had been brought in by someone.)

Station 5 getting ready

Station 5 once things began

Station 5 when things got busier
I worked mainly in the room with Station 5.  There were five desks (two workers per desk) where people could check in their materials. A sixth desk was opened when it got crowded.  But even then I don't think anyone had to wait more than 30 seconds to 45 seconds.  The flow was pretty fast.  None of the long lines from last year.  People were in a good mood, though some were clearly tired from having worked since about 7am.

By about 10:15pm there were only six precincts still out - mostly from the Hillside.  The Alaska Zoo was one.  I think Rabbit Creek was the last one in.  Aside from being far from city hall, they had seven or eight different ballots for people in different road and other districts.  So counting through all their stuff took longer.  By the time I went home - about 10:45pm, all the precincts were in.  All the ballots in the black bags had been moved to the vault upstairs.  All the white boxes with unused ballots had been transferred into the downstairs 'vault.'

It all went smoothly.  There were no rumors about precincts running out of ballots.  No long lines.  That doesn't mean all the paper work is actually correct, but there were no signs of problems that emerged, and I'm guessing there won't be any serious issues.  

And The Results?

While we were busy, we had no news about how the election was going.  It wasn't until I got home that I heard some results.  Even now, a little after 1am, I am only getting results marked 10:23pm.  It says 122 precincts reporting out of 124 (98%).  [UPDATE 6pm: I need to check with the election folks on how to read these reports.  Nathaniel Herz in the ADN reports there were only 122 precincts altogether.  And that there are 6000 outstanding early and absentee votes to count.] Of the two Assembly seats that seemed to be in play, Pete Petersen is ahead of incumbent Adam Trombley by about 300 votes and Bill Evans was about 200 votes ahead of Bruce Dougherty in the south Anchorage seat.  You can see all the Assembly and School District results details here.   For the propositions, you can look here.   If the numbers hold, the conservative 6-5 edge over liberals would be flipped to a 6-5 liberal edge. 

Everything seems to have passed except Proposition 3 which would have fixed the steps and entrance to Loussac Library and done work around Mulcahy stadium.  That was behind by about 300 votes.  It would have added just under $2 per $100,000 property value per year.  The library was packaged with the sports complex at Chester Creek and improvements to the Anchorage golf course. 

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