City Clerk Beth McEwen updates a board tracking absentee, mail in and other irregular ballots on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

City Clerk Beth McEwen updates a board tracking absentee, mail in and other irregular ballots on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

City checking, counting extra ballots from Tuesday election

Absentee, mail in and other irregular ballots need to be verified

City officials and volunteers are checking about 2,000 extra ballots for Juneau’s municipal election which took place on Tuesday, Oct. 1.

The conference room at City Hall is packed with boxes, volunteers and coffee as about half a dozen workers verify absentee, mail in and question ballots submitted on or before election day.

Once those ballots are certified, the actual votes will be counted by machine in the Assembly chambers later Friday afternoon or evening.

Staff in the City Clerk’s office aided by local volunteers, “have gone through and they’ve been reviewing all of the absentees,” City Clerk Beth McEwen said Friday morning. “Then they started reviewing the question ballots, which were voted at the precincts, and that part is coming to an end shortly.”

City staff aided by volunteers verify absentee and other irregular ballots on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

City staff aided by volunteers verify absentee and other irregular ballots on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

The process is a lengthy one. Absentee and question ballots have to be compared to ensure no double voting has taken place, according to McEwen. Question ballots, ballots that voters can submit if they voted at a precinct outside of where they’re registered, have to be compared against voter rolls to make sure that voter has provided to correct information.

Any ballots that need to be questioned are run by the state Division of Elections which determines if the voter is registered in Juneau.

“Generally those that are being rejected are registered in another town,” McEwan said.

As to how many ballots need to be counted, McEwen said, “that is a moving target at the moment because we’re still waiting for by-mails to come in, and by fax that were postmarked by election day.”

[Prop 3 smacked down, and other election results]

Staff do know how many they’ve received already, which as of Friday morning was 1,549 absentee ballots and 555 question ballots. But McEwen said, the more than 500 question ballots won’t be the final number as some of those will likely be rejected.

When all the checking is done, the actual votes will be counted. With roughly 2,000 votes still to be counted, the fate of some of Tuesday’s races could change.

Proposition 2, which would allocate bonds for repairs to Centennial Hall, was voted down but only by 16 votes. Martin Stepetin Sr. is trailing Emil Mackey in the race for a seat on the School Board by about 200 votes. Alicia Hughes-Skandijs, who is vying with Greg Smith for a three-year term on the city Assembly versus a one-year term, is about 250 votes behind Smith.

Proposition 1, which would allow the Assembly to raise hotel-motel tax from 7 to 9 percent seems likely to pass by a 3,607-2,699 vote on Tusday. Proposition 3 — that asked voters whether the City and Borough of Juneau should give the proposed replacement for the Juneau Arts & Culture Center a $4.5 million grant — did not pass by a 3,743 to 2,602 vote Tuesday.

City officials will make an announcement Friday afternoon informing the public when the votes will be counted. That process, as well as the verification process in the City Hall conference room, are open to the public.

This is a developing story. Check back later for updates.


• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or psegall@juneauempire.com.


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