Heavy turnout in Municipal Election causes ballot shortage

Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 21:35
A voter fills out a ballot during the 2012 Municipal Election on Tuesday, April 3 at the Eagle River Lions Club, where precinct workers reported heavier-than-expected turnout caused a ballot shortage.

10:50 p.m. Tuesday night update: With all but a few precincts reporting in Tuesday's municipal election, Mayor Dan Sullivan appeared to be headed to a comfortable win, while a controversial equal rights proposition looked to be headed to defeat.

With 91 percent of precincts reporting, Sullivan led Assemlyman Paul Honeman 59 percent to 38 percent.

As for Proposition 5, which would make it illegal to discriminate against people based on sexual orientation, voters were rejecting the measure by a 58-42 percent margin.

All bond propositions were passing by comfortable margins, as was a property tax exemption for spouses of deceased military members and a measure to allow municipal notices to be publilshed online.

For school board Seat E, Kathleen Plunkett led David Nees 63-36 percent; for Seat F, Tam Agosti-Gisler led Richard Wanda 61-37 percent; and for Seat G, Natasha Von Imhoff led Starr Marsett 56-43 percent.

A larger than expected turnout in today’s municipal election caused some precincts to run out of ballots.

According to precinct chair Mary Buckley at the Eagle River Lions Club polling place, that location was out of ballots for about 10 minutes during the afternoon before more arrived from City Hall.

“There were a couple of people that left, but they did come back,” Buckley said.

Buckley said turnout was extremely heavy.

“We’ve had a very unusual turnout,” she said.

Buckley said she began to notice the precinct was running low on ballots at around 3:45 p.m., at which time she called City Hall asking for more ballots. But with rush hour traffic, the extra ballots didn’t arrive until about 5:45 p.m., at which point the precinct’s initial supply of 575 ballots had run out.

“I had people that stood and waited,” she said. “There were a couple of people that left, but they did come back.”

However, Buckley said one woman was in a hurry and unable to return to the polling place, which elicited an “irate” response from the woman’s husband.

“They left instantly, they didn’t wait,” she said.

As the polls closed, Buckley said about 800 people cast their ballots at the Lions Club. By comparison, she said turnout in last year’s election was less than half that.

Other media outlets — along with mayoral candidates Dan Sullvian and Paul Honeman via Twitter — reported that other precincts across Anchorage also experienced ballot shortages.

In addition to the mayor's race, several ballot propositions, along with roughly $90 million in bonds, were to be decided in Tuesday's election.

Calls to the municipal clerk's office were not immediately returned to the Star.

For complete election results, visit the municipality's election page here.

This is a developing story, check back for updates.

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