Dr. Johnny Holland feeds his ballot into a counting machine while voting during a special election for mayor of Juneau at the Mendenhall Valley Public Library in 2016. The Alaska Division of Elections is considering new voting equipment statewide. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire file)

Dr. Johnny Holland feeds his ballot into a counting machine while voting during a special election for mayor of Juneau at the Mendenhall Valley Public Library in 2016. The Alaska Division of Elections is considering new voting equipment statewide. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire file)

Southern Southeast votes still trickling in

Trouble with voting machines leads to delays

Correction: A headline associated with an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that there was a problem with voting machines. The problem is with the cards used to end the election.

Election results from isolated precincts in Southeast Alaska are slowly trickling into the Division of Elections, two days after polls closed across the 49th state.

Samantha Miller, a spokeswoman for the division, said by email early Wednesday that the problem is with various machines’ “ender cards.”

Alaska tabulates its paper ballots by feeding them into an electronic scanner not unlike the system used for Scantron fill-in-the-oval tests at schools. After the last ballot goes through the scanner, poll workers are supposed to feed the machine a card that instructs the scanner that the election is over and that results should be tabulated.

“It was reported that some of these ender cards were no longer functioning properly because the tracking marks were not being read by the machines,” Miller wrote.

“We are coordinating the delivery of the memory cards to the director’s office as soon as possible,” she said.

By sending memory cards to the division director’s office in Juneau, elections officials are able to insert them into a working scanner, then feed an appropriate ender card.

Nine precincts across Southeast were affected by the error, and by the end of the business day Thursday, five still had not reported results: Craig, Klawock, Thorne Bay, Hydaburg and Metlakatla.

“Those haven’t arrived yet,” Miller said.

Those precincts are in House districts 35 and 36 and could affect the results from Election Day.

In House District 35, incumbent Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka, leads Republican challenger Richard Wein by 666 votes. Craig has 1,156 registered voters; Klawock has 749, and Thorne Bay has 681.

In District 36, incumbent independent Rep. Dan Ortiz, I-Ketchikan, leads Republican challenger Trevor Shaw by 833 votes. Metlakatla, Alaska’s southernmost community, has 1,043 registered voters. Hydaburg has 290 registered voters.

Much of Alaska’s voting equipment would itself be eligible to vote if it were human. The two-decade-old system of optical scanners and dial-up modems used to tabulate ballots is scheduled for replacement, and the division has already convened a special task force on the topic.

Earlier this year, the task force agreed that the new system should be in place by the 2020 election.


• Contact reporter James Brooks at jbrooks@juneauempire.com or 523-2258.


More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of Aug. 7

Here’s what to expect this week.

(Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Ice fog, a phrase in Russell Tabbert’s Dictionary of Alaskan English, is not uttered in many other places because to form it takes a sustained temperature of minus 35 F. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Alaska lexicon sinks in over the years

When my little Ford pickup chugged into Alaska 36 years ago this… Continue reading

Mimi Israelah, center, cheers for Donald Trump inside the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska, during a rally Saturday July 9, 2022. Two Anchorage police officers violated department policy during a traffic stop last month when Israelah, in town for a rally by former President Donald Trump showed a "white privilege card" instead of a driver's license and was not ticketed. (Bill Roth / Anchorage Daily News)
Alaska officers violated policy in ‘white privilege’ stop

It’s unclear what policy was violated or what disciplinary actions the two officers faced.

(Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Capital City Fire/Rescue vehicles form a line at Juneau International Airport for a drill. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Women arrested after Monday morning structure fire

Arrest does not appear related to two other recent fires, per fire marshal.

(Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Keke Tian Ke is the featured artist for the month of August at the Juneau Artists Gallery. Her new works on display are an exploration of the landscapes and natural wonders Juneau has to offer. She’ll be at the First Friday event on Aug. 5 from 4:30 to 8 p.m. on the ground floor of the Senate Building, 175 South Franklin.
Here’s what’s happening for First Friday

Keke Tian Ke featured artist for August at Juneau Artists Gallery

Select North Douglas residents are expected to experience an emergency water line shut down Thursday.
Some North Douglas residents set to experience emergency water line shutdown Thursday

The line shut down will occur between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Thursday.

Most Read