What others say: Mallott must ensure election integrity

The voting irregularities discovered after the primary election vote in House District 15 down in Anchorage might seem to be a distant issue of no concern to Interior residents.

Election integrity, however, is a matter of statewide importance. Problems can occur anywhere in Alaska if our method of conducting elections isn’t as secure as it should be.

The current controversy surfaced mere days ago and is on the Republican side of the Aug. 21 statewide primary.

In that race, incumbent Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux trailed first-time candidate Aaron Weaver by three votes after Election Day. Mr. Weaver reportedly did little campaigning, but apparently he didn’t need to because Rep. LeDoux was drawing sufficient criticism from Republican constituents due to her decision after the 2016 election to join a coalition with House Democrats and therefore help create a ruling majority in that chamber. The Alaska Republican Party had urged her defeat in the August primary.

When absentee, questioned and early votes were counted, however, Rep. LeDoux soared to a lead of 113 votes. She received 158 of the 193 ballots that were counted later.

The lopsided outcome of those ballots prompted complaints that some sort of fraud might have occurred. Division of Elections workers noticed problems.

Among the irregularities that have surfaced in House District 15:

—Seven absentee ballot applications were received from people who, state records indicated, were deceased, according to the Division of Elections. The division did not send ballots in response to those applications.

—An usually high number of people whom elections workers were unable to contact about absentee ballot applications that were returned to the Division of Elections came from District 15. “In every election, some absentee ballots mailed out by the division are returned by the post office as undeliverable,” states a Monday news release from the Division of Elections. “What raised suspicions in this election cycle is that of those voters that the division was not able to reach, over 50 percent (40 out of 70) were from House District 15.”

—The Anchorage Daily News reported that 17 people listed the same trailer in an East Anchorage mobile home park as their home address when applying for an absentee ballot. Fourteen more did the same for another trailer in the park, the newspaper reported. Anchorage television station KTVA also reported multiple applications from the same residence. Residents stated that some of the people who listed the park as their address do not live in the park.

Division of Elections officials are expected to certify the election outcome in the next few days after a review of all results by the bipartisan State Ballot Review Board.

Ensuring the integrity of our elections is vital to ensuring the sustainability of our democracy. To that end, Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, whose principal duty is to oversee the Division of Elections, must make sure that anyone who intended to commit fraud in the District 15 election is prosecuted, and he must convince Alaskans that the outcome of the forthcoming November election will be conducted in a fair manner.

—Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Sept. 1, 2018

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