Technical difficulties, COVID-19 protocol compliance and missing ballots were among the issues the Kenai Peninsula Borough experienced on Election Day last Tuesday, according to a memo from Borough Clerk Johni Blankenship.
The borough received calls and emails from voters who said not all election officials were wearing masks. The borough provided face masks for election workers and voters, face shields, social distancing decals, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, among other things, to all election sites as part of their COVID-19 protocols. Election workers were strongly encouraged, but not mandated, to wear masks because Blankenship said she does not have the authority to issue a mask mandate.
It was also confirmed that some voters were not mailed ballots and did not end up on a list sent to the contractor.
“I have consulted with the Division of Election to confirm the correct list of votes was sent to me and it was determined that the sorting/filter of voters failed due to formatting issues,” Blankenship says in the memo.
The borough specifically received two calls from voters in the Seldovia/Kachemak Bay precinct, though the borough said they had an absentee voting official in Seldovia from Sept. 21 through Election Day and that signs were posted directing people who had not received ballots to contact the borough. A new protocol has been implemented to prevent the error from happening again, according to the memo.
Other issues include technical difficulties in Ninilchik, where an Optical Scan unit was accepting ballots, but the number on the digital display was not changing. A new machine was delivered and running by 8:15 a.m. with all ballots cast prior to then counted after polls closed.
Eleven people tried to vote twice. Which vote was counted depends on how the voter voted the first time. If a voter cast a ballot in person, their vote would have been counted when it went through the tabulation machine. If a voter also voted via an absentee ballot, whichever was received first was counted.
All voters who attempted to vote twice will be contacted by the borough or further investigation and will be reported to the state attorney general.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org.