The Associated Press
Sep. 05, 2018
Here is a sampling of Alaska editorials:
Sept. 2, 2018
Anchorage Daily News: We need answers on what happened in the House District 15 primary election
Usually, primary elections are effectively a warm-up for the general election in November. Turnout is low, margins are usually high and everything is wrapped up when the last of the absentee and questioned ballots are counted about a week after Election Day.
Not this year.
A litany of problems in the House District 15 Republican primary have cast a cloud over the election. Several absentee ballots were requested for voters found to have died. Residents of one trailer in Muldoon filed requests for 17 absentee ballots; another in the same trailer park filed 14 ballot requests.
It's not yet clear what exactly took place. The trailer park that is the source of most of the ballot irregularities is inhabited largely by members of Anchorage's Hmong community, many of whom have significant language and cultural barriers. It is for this reason that incumbent Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux hired a California resident, Charlie J. Chang, to help with voter outreach there. She paid Mr. Chang $10,000, a significant sum in a primary campaign, for his services. The exact nature of those services — the agreement Rep. LeDoux had with Mr. Chang and what he did to turn out voters — is fundamental to knowing whether what happened in the District 15 primary was legal but rife with honest mistakes, ethically dubious or even criminal conduct.
Alaska voters, particularly those in House District 15, need to know, and they need to know as soon as possible.
As of Friday afternoon, the state Department of Law and the Division of Elections had yet to announce an official investigation into what happened in the primary. That doesn't preclude the possibility that one is already underway. If not, one should be started as soon as possible. And that investigation should be transparent throughout its course, so that Alaskans can be reassured they have a full accounting of the facts. Voters need to know what happened in the race well before they go to the polls in the general election, where Rep. LeDoux will face off against a Democratic challenger and potentially a write-in candidate, an option Alaska Republican Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock said he was encouraging.
In recent years, high-tech methods of election interference — voter database hacking, social media botnets and fake news pages — have grabbed headlines, but few incidents are as corrosive to voter confidence as those that have existed for centuries: electioneering, voter intimidation and the like. As we guard against the high-tech threats, we must keep a weather eye on the sanctity of the old methods, and take every precaution to make sure election laws aren't being broken, whether intentionally or through misunderstanding.
Fortunately, incidents of voter fraud are comparatively rare, and even rarer are cases where such fraud has a bearing on the outcome of the election. But the House District 15 Republican primary features the potential for both: A tight race in which absentee and questioned ballots played heavily in deciding the victor. As such, Alaskans need a full accounting from the Department of Law and the Division of Elections that will allow them to cast their ballots in November with confidence, unhindered by nagging questions about the legitimacy of the August result or the potential for such irregularities to be a factor again.
Sept. 1, 2018
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Mallott must ensure election integrity
The voting irregularities discovered after the primary election vote in House District 15 down in Anchorage might seem to be a distant issue of no concern to Interior residents.
Election integrity, however, is a matter of statewide importance. Problems can occur anywhere in Alaska if our method of conducting elections isn't as secure as it should be.
The current controversy surfaced mere days ago and is on the Republican side of the Aug. 21 statewide primary.
In that race, incumbent Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux trailed first-time candidate Aaron Weaver by three votes after Election Day. Mr. Weaver reportedly did little campaigning, but apparently he didn't need to because Rep. LeDoux was drawing sufficient criticism from Republican constituents due to her decision after the 2016 election to join a coalition with House Democrats and therefore help create a ruling majority in that chamber. The Alaska Republican Party had urged her defeat in the August primary.
When absentee, questioned and early votes were counted, however, Rep. LeDoux soared to a lead of 113 votes. She received 158 of the 193 ballots that were counted later.
The lopsided outcome of those ballots prompted complaints that some sort of fraud might have occurred. Division of Elections workers noticed problems.
Among the irregularities that have surfaced in House District 15:
. Seven absentee ballot applications were received from people who, state records indicated, were deceased, according to the Division of Elections. The division did not send ballots in response to those applications.
. An usually high number of people whom elections workers were unable to contact about absentee ballot applications that were returned to the Division of Elections came from District 15. "In every election, some absentee ballots mailed out by the division are returned by the post office as undeliverable," states a Monday news release from the Division of Elections. "What raised suspicions in this election cycle is that of those voters that the division was not able to reach, over 50 percent (40 out of 70) were from House District 15."
. The Anchorage Daily News reported that 17 people listed the same trailer in an East Anchorage mobile home park as their home address when applying for an absentee ballot. Fourteen more did the same for another trailer in the park, the newspaper reported. Anchorage television station KTVA also reported multiple applications from the same residence. Residents stated that some of the people who listed the park as their address do not live in the park.
Division of Elections officials are expected to certify the election outcome in the next few days after a review of all results by the bipartisan State Ballot Review Board.
Ensuring the integrity of our elections is vital to ensuring the sustainability of our democracy. To that end, Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, whose principal duty is to oversee the Division of Elections, must make sure that anyone who intended to commit fraud in the District 15 election is prosecuted, and he must convince Alaskans that the outcome of the forthcoming November election will be conducted in a fair manner.