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ALASKA ELECTION UPDATE: The Envelopes Please

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It doesn't bother me to have fundamental differences with people. If it did, I'd never get out of bed. The person I most respected growing up, my Pop, was and is a conservative ideologue. I'm crazy about him. Disagreeing with facts is fair and healthy. Arguing from a place lacking intellectual curiosity is quite another as nothing is learned nor gained.
Since my first post questioning the voter turnout and other anomalies in Alaska's election, I've been accused of all sorts of things. I have been misquoted in the Anchorage Daily News. They claimed I wrote the election was "stolen." I wrote "Stolen Election in Alaska?" It wasn't the word, it was the punctuation.

But there is good reason to be concerned. A lawsuit filed in 2006 in State Superior Court to release the Diebold GEMS Software from 2004 revealed the database had been tampered with. Unfortunately, the user log-in and password were set to the default settings so it was impossible to tell who had edited the software numerous times post election, since all entries were made by "administrator" with password: "password". So it's not too outrageous for anybody to believe it's important, this time, to pay very close attention to the results of last Tuesday's election...

Since Election Day, the votes have been rolling in to the Division of Elections. They are now reporting 90,635 ballots remaining to be counted; nearly 29 percent(28.8%) of the total vote has not been counted yet.

Though closer to the total votes cast in 2004, the turnout percentage is still down from that election in which neither our own Governor nor Barack Obama were running. The total ballot count is at 314,268, with turnout at 63.3% (registered voters = 495,731). Turnout in the 2004 General was 66.6%, with 314,502 voting and 472,160 registered voters statewide. If 100% of the requested mail-out ballots are returned in time to be counted, we can expect about 3600 more.

I'm proud of the Alaskan mail-in voters. They really have shown up this year. All the envelope licking and stamping, well, it's impressive. So far, 92% of those who requested absentee ballots have returned them! Fantastic! You betcha. I wonder what part of GOTV worked so well since the 2004 was dismal. A total of 58,559 absentee ballots were mailed to voters and 32,075 were returned by the Election Day deadline in 2004. That was a pitiful 54%. I'm hard pressed to figure out why there is a 38 point difference in voter participation in the absentee ballots while the poll voter turnout was down..

Monday's newly posted ballots [PDF] include about 4,000 additional "Questioned" [elsewhere known as "provisional"] ballots and about 5,600 additional Absentee ballots. Wednesday, the Division of Elections (DOE) plan to count the majority of early vote and absentee ballots verified by Election Day. The DOE will count the remaining ballots on Friday. However, there could be enough ballots left after Wednesday's count for any of the races to still go either way. A public records request has been submitted to the Division of Elections, as per many of the recommendations laid out by Brad Friedman, for a number of important pieces of information that are required so that citizens of all parties may try to ensure an accurate reconciliation of all votes cast.

All camps; Ted Stevens and Mark Begich in the Senate race, and Don Young and Ethan Berkowitz in one of the House races with the strangest results, are still at work; crunching numbers and refreshing the Alaska Elections website as often as possible. It feels like Bush-Gore 2000 around here.

On the state-side races, leadership positions are being divvied up and plans going forward for the session in January. But polling showed huge differences in at least 5 of the state House races, and with 29% of the votes still UNCOUNTED, it seems prudent to give it some time.

Between the hanging chads in Florida, long lines and lost voters in Ohio, the tampered software in Alaska, and the increasingly long list of all-too-regular election "irregularities," it's time for a change. It's time for a new cabinet level position. Why shouldn't we consider a Secretary of Election Integrity? Who would appoint? Who could it be? We must find a way to insure the basic right of Americans to vote, to have that vote counted and to have it counted accurately and transparently, so that everyone - all political parties and citizens alike -- can know that it actually meant something.
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