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Alaska lieutenant governor wants audit of election system

December 18, 2018

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer said Monday that he wants an audit of Alaska’s election system following irregularities in the last two primaries.

Meyer, a Republican, said the more he’s learning about the Division of Elections, the more he thinks it has done a “pretty good job.” He noted the division found irregularities in a state House primary this year, which the division previously said resulted in 26 suspect ballots being sent to the Department of Law for further review. In that race, the division said it had received seven absentee ballot applications for people that records indicated were dead. The division said it did not send ballots to those requestors.

But Meyer said those irregularities and actions by some election workers in a 2016 House primary raised concerns. Questions arose in 2016 around election worker training in certain rural precincts.

Meyer said an audit may not find much, if anything, but said even if there is a minor issue, it’s important to fix to ensure trust in the election process. The public “has to be assured that things are OK and if they’re not, we’re going to fix them,” he said.

Meyer did not yet know who might conduct such an audit. Josie Bahnke, who was director of the division until last week, said it’s hard to comment without knowing exactly what Meyer has in mind.

But said she no laws, regulations or policies changed during her three-year tenure to make the system vulnerable and called the system in place “excellent.”

She questioned whether an audit would reveal anything new.

Meyer took office earlier this month after years as a state legislator. One of his roles is overseeing the division. He recently named Gail Fenumiai as division director, a position she held from 2008 to 2015.

Meyer said he expects to split his time between the state capital in Juneau and Anchorage. But he said he also wants to meet with workers and regional elections supervisors across the state.

Because of his legislative experience, he said one of his duties during the upcoming legislative session will be promoting and advocating for Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s positions.

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