Press Release - Noon, December 17
ALASKA RECOUNT OK, SOME PROCEDURES NEED IMPROVING
The recount of Alaska's 2004 election for U.S. Senator drew to an end
Friday morning, with no significant change in votes.
Alaskans for Fair Elections chair Joe Sonneman said Alaskans could be
assured that the Accu-Vote machines worked ell. he said a 10% sample
was hand-counted and the totals were identical or within a vote or two
of the machine counted ballots.
Alaskans for Fair elections raised $10,000 to get the Recount going
and put in about 100 hours of unpaid volunteer time observing.
Sonneman said the group did find some election procedures could use
review and improvement. For example, no one now checks that folks who
vote absentee from out of state do not also vote in that other state's
election. The Division of Elections needs more time to get absentee
ballots back to those who ask for them. And the rules on which marks
actually count are perhaps too strict, or else Alakans need more education
on how to mark ballots.
Alaskans for Fair Elections thanks the Division of Elections and the
temporary Recount workers for all their efforts in achieving vote count
accuracy and for their cooperation with observers. .
Nina Mollett of Juneau, David Koester of Fairbanks, and other Alaskans
helped greatly to start up Alaskans for Fair Elections. The group thanks
its contributors and volunteers.
Report One from Alaskans
for Fair Elections chair, Joe Sonneman
Excerpts from Joe Sonneman's
report - Monday night, December 13
Well, the Recount has begun! It was quite an impressive sight, to see
50-60 ballot 'feeders', 4 Election Supervisors, various assistants,
20 Observers from our and other groups, and the Admin Supervisor, plus
some 'security', and to realize that we made all this happen in order
to check the accuracy of the voting machines. Thanks to everyone who
To decide which precincts to recount by hand Elections officials grouped
machine-counted (on election night) precincts by district, put all precincts
for one district in a basket, and let us pick one from the basket, sight
unseen. Nina Mollett picked the very first one; I picked the rest of
the first 20. We only started 20 tonight.
The first 20 were the 20 picked for later hand count, so that, as soon
those were machine counted, they could get them next door and begin
hand counting them. But few were finished in our 2 hour session, because:
a) the first hour was Observer orientation, and
b) the Director--who alone can make final decisions on 'intent of the
voter'--was not present, having gone to Anchorage for Electoral College
activities and had not got the plane she'd hoped to return on, but she
should be in tomorrow.
Our experience this afternoon shows:
1 person can watch 3-5 machines at a time.
Much of the information we are collecting, is available off the tapes,
off machines that don't move [serial numbers], etc. So it seems like
the main thing is, to watch when an operator signals [with a yellow
card and raised hand] that they want a supervisor or Director to review
their results. Differences between the Recount and the Election, we
can look at overnight. Any significant differences they will take up
on a case by case basis, and may order an extra hand count.
Tuesday, as precincts start being finished and new ones start being
counted, ballots will go into the hand count room for hand counting.
There are over 300,000 ballots
total; they have 20 machines and estimate 800-900 ballots per hour per
machine, so that's about 16,000 per hour, about 20 hours minimum. And
then they will count all the absentee and questioned ballots, only after
all 'regular' ballots.
We are already feeling a
bit short of staff to keep up with 20 machines on a full 'audit trail'
level, but may be able to keep up with following Director decisions.
If we can get more volunteers willing to help, that'd be great, but
we did have about 14 people at today's event, and about the same at
the followup potluck/rehash.
Now, I have to sleep, more tomorrow, early!! It may not be the exact
style of Recount some may have wanted, but it appears more or less OK
so far, with minor reservations....But we will try to stay aware .....
for Fair Elections
in Juneau, Fairbanks and elsewhere in the state have linked
up to call for a recount of the votes in the Alaska election
for U.S. senator.
A recount seems justified primarily for two reasons:
- Exit polls
showed Tony Knowles winning (50 - 47 %),
but in the results he lost by a significant margin. We
do not have the methodology, location or even sample size
of this poll (check the site), but note that (from information
from the host of the website), this poll was conducted
until 3:30 pm on election day, not till close.
- Alaska has
an efficient and up-to-date voting system. Nevertheless,
no system is foolproof. Optical scan machines like those
used in Alaska have generated anomalous results in Florida
and elsewhere and were targeted in the New Hampshire recount
(which, by the way, is showing in that case that the machines
were reasonably accurate.
www.boston.com but that there were some anomalies
in the Nation).
for more information about Nov. 2 election
results and voting technology, see our info
was submitted and the application was delivered to the
office of the Director of the Division of Elections
at 4:50 pm on December 8, ten minutes before the deadline.
The plane carrying the signed copy from Fairbanks was
delayed and the actual submission was a cliffhanger.
began officially at 3 pm on Monday, December 13. Alaskans
for Fair Elections contacted the candidates in the election
to tell them of their right to have observers present
during the recounting.
have asked about whether the recount will be a hand recount.
We asked that at least ten percent of precincts be hand recounted.
This will check to see that the machines are working properly
and confirm the validity of the original counts.
Supporters and Contacts:
Lookout Bed and Breakfast
& Amy Paige
Coordinator, No Nukes North