alaska recount

December 16, 2004 15:28


raised $9,600

We made it.

Thanks to all!

Recount News!

Press Release - Noon, December 17

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 contributed!

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 .....

Alaskans for Fair Elections

Voters 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:

    1. 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.
    2. 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. but that there were some anomalies (article in the Nation).

    for more information about Nov. 2 election results and voting technology, see our info page

The deposit 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.

The recount 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.

Many people 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.


Information, Supporters and Contacts:

Fairbanks Palmer
Douglas Yates

Jim Sykes

David Koester


Sean McGuire
Cloudberry Lookout Bed and Breakfast
John Dunker & Amy Paige

Stacey Fritz
Coordinator, No Nukes North

Nina Mollett