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Elections head reports few glitches
Anchorage Daily News  The Associated Press  November 9, 2006

Voting in the general election Tuesday went off with few glitches, Division of Elections director Whitney Brewster said.

Brewster said in an e-mail that she could not have been more pleased with how the election was conducted.

A handful of memory cards malfunctioned and had to be replaced, Brewster said, but that happens every election. Voting was not interrupted and affected voters placed their paper ballots in an emergency ballot box until a replacement memory card was received, she said.

Kay Brown, a former state representative and current communications director for the Alaska Democratic Party, said her party remains committed to making changes in the system. Before the election the party sought information from the division, such as the schedule and procedure for securing, opening and counting absentee ballots, and did not receive complete answers, she said.

"We hope the incoming administration will correct some of those problems and make our elections more transparent and ensure people are not disenfranchised in their ability to vote," she said.

Democrats have had a running dispute with the Elections Division over records kept in the 2004 election. The party contends that there were errors and discrepancies in the results that were reported, that data had been modified and that the division claimed to have no backup copies of original electronic files.

At the Democrats request, Superior Court Judge Stephanie Joannides on Tuesday ordered the Division of Elections to retain all of the electronic data from the election.

Before the election, Democrats had urged voters to use paper ballots as the most reliable way to ensure votes were counted properly. Voters also had the choice of electronic voting machines.

Brown said national experts have concluded that the software and database used in electronic voting is susceptible to hacking and manipulation. She said she believes most Alaskans on Tuesday used paper ballots.

Brewster said she did not have any preliminary numbers on how many voters used a paper ballot versus an electronic ballot. But she questioned why Democrats would discourage electronic voting.

"Would they urge blind and disabled voters who have never been able to vote an independent ballot to not use equipment that would allow them the opportunity to do so?" she wrote.

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