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Anchorage Officials Say More Than 8,000 Ballots Suspect or Unscanned After Failed Gay Rights Vote

As we've been reporting all week, the recent election in Anchorage, Alaska in which Proposition 5, a long-fought-for LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance, failed to pass, was muddied by potential voter fraud and polling places running out of ballots.

AnchorageAn update from the Alaska Dispatch:

The Municipal Clerk's office has released a final tally for questioned ballots across all Anchorage precincts. With all precincts reporting, 6,095 questioned ballots have been discovered. By comparison, during the last municipal election there were only 1,060 questioned ballots. About 55,000 ballots were counted after Tuesday's election.

There also was an updated count offered by the municipality regarding those "unscanned ballots" -- ones that weren't electronically tabulated by Accuvote machines. The preliminary total: 1,433 unscanned ballots. Those included voters who showed up, signed in, but weren't electronically counted on election day. Those who used sample ballots or other non-official ballots (mayor challenger Paul Honeman alleged some voters had to poll on napkins).

No word on the napkin count. Or hanging napkins.

ACLU executive director Jeffrey Mittman is now calling for "an independent, special counsel to investigate the conduct of the April 3, 2012 Municipal Election" in the wake of the chaotic and bungled election there which resulted in the failure to pass Proposition 5, an LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance, the Anchorage Daily News reports:

Mittman was a leader in the One Anchorage campaign, the group that formed to promote the gay rights measure, and the ACLU contributed $10,000 to its effort.

Mittman said the ACLU is trying to ensure that each individual's right to vote is protected, even those who wanted to vote against Proposition 5, the gay rights ballot measure. He acknowledged the ACLU is "wearing two hats" by reviewing the election and advocating for Proposition 5. But he said it could serve both roles.

Both the city clerk's office and the ACLU are urging people who had trouble voting to come forward with complaints.

LGBT advocates have been working to pass the ordinance, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the city's anti-discrimination policies, for more than 35 years.


ACLU Alaska Looking Into Anchorage's Gay Rights Vote

AnchorageWith thousands of ballots yet to be tallied, shortages across the city and allegations of voter fraud on the part of opponents, the battle continues to rage over Anchorage's Proposition 5, an allegedly failed ordinance that includes LGBT people in discrimination legislation. And now the ACLU may be getting involved, The Sun News reports.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska also is looking into voter concerns and has established a hot line, 263-2015, for people to call in with issues.

The ACLU is gathering information to determine whether it needs to take action, said executive director Jeffrey Mittman, a supporter of the gay-rights measure, which failed.

"We want to be aware of whether there were irregularities to the extent that voters were disenfranchised," he said.

Anchorage officials have launched their own investigation, but aren't looking into claims of fraud. They're simply focussing on whether there were ballot shortages and why.

For its part, Prop 5 advocacy group One Anchorage said, "While the vote totals released to date indicate that Prop 5 did not receive sufficient votes to become law, we know our long-term journey towards full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Alaskans will one day -- and soon -- become a reality."

"We understand that there are thousands of ballots that have not yet even been counted, and additionally that Anchorage voters have expressed concerns with the conduct of the election."


Anchorage May Have Rejected LGBT Anti-Discrimination Ordinance in Day of Chaotic, Confused Elections

Proposition 5, an ordinance adding legal protections for LGBT people that advocates have been trying to pass for 35 years, appears to have been rejected by voters in the municipal election there yesterday, though "allegations of improper voting registration, polling places running out of ballots and even voters being turned away, cast a heavy pall over a day that should represent the best of the democratic process" according to the Alaska Dispatch.

The Anchorage Daily News reports:

AnchorageWith more than 90 percent of the precincts reporting late Tuesday, 58 percent of voters had voted against Proposition 5, the equal rights ordinance that was far and away the most controversial and emotional component of this spring's election. As of late Tuesday, neither side was claiming victory nor conceding defeat.

The main group opposing the measure was silent, and its leader did not appear at Election Central at the Dena'ina Center or issue any kind of written statement...

...An unexpectedly high turnout, with some polling places running out of ballots, resulted in a large number of votes that might be on "questioned" ballots, which have to be counted by hand. The final results may be days or longer away, said municipal clerk Barbara Gruenstein.

AnchorageThe NYT adds:

The vote followed an unusually loud and expensive campaign for a city ballot measure in Anchorage. The organizers of Proposition 5, a group called One Anchorage, included prominent politicians from both sides of the aisle (Alaska’s United States senators, Lisa Murkowski, a Republican, and Mark Begich, a Democrat, both said they supported it) and the group outspent the opposition more than 4 to 1.

One Anchorage, which had raised about $340,000 as of last week, received some of its support from outside the state, including a $25,000 donation from Tim Gill, a Colorado billionaire who has given generously to gay causes. Opposition was led by conservative religious leaders in Alaska, including within the Catholic Church, and was financed largely by one source, the Anchorage Baptist Temple and its leader, the Rev. Jerry Prevo.

AnchorageRight-wing religious conservatives had been ramping up their efforts in recent months, and this week broadcast a couple of misleading video claiming "transvestites" will suddenly swamp day care centers  and gym locker rooms.

But there's lots of issue with the voting process in Anchorage, and which votes will actually count, the Alaska Dispatch explains:

Prop. 5 on Tuesday's ballot faced staunch opposition from conservative detractors, primarily the religious right. It may have been their get-out-the-vote effort that left Prop. 5 gasping on the floor while simultaneously launching Sullivan to what Matt Larkin, president of Dittman Research, said was quite possibly the widest-ever margin of victory in an Anchorage mayoral race.

But that get-out-the-vote effort -- led by the Alaska Family Council and its president, Jim Minnery, and the Catholic Anchor newspaper -- didn't come without its own controversy on Tuesday. A Facebook post by the "No on 5" campaign erroneously stated that unregistered voters could register on election day and have their vote counted.

City code requires that a voter register 30 days prior to an election if they wish to take part, and City Clerk Gruenstein confirmed that, saying those that registered on election day will automatically have their ballots placed with other questionable ballots. Ultimately, those who registered on election day will have their votes denied. But she couldn't say how many such votes had been cast.

"Will a lot of those questioned ballots be tossed because they're not registered? I can't say for certain, but it’s possible," she said.


More Anti-Trans Messaging In Anchorage Discrimination Battle

Proposition5Hate

Anchorage residents vote next week on whether to pass Proposition 5, an ordinance including sexual orientation and gender identity in the city's anti-discrimination policies.

As the vote nears, right wing religious groups have been going all out to halt equality. Yesterday they released a video claiming "transvestites" will suddenly swamp day care centers should the ordinance pass and today brings a new scare tactic commercial aimed at small business owners, particularly gym owners.

The script:

Steve owns a gym in Anchorage. But if Proposition 5 passes, Steve will be forced to open the women's locker room to anyone who claims a female identity. If Steve says yes, he'll lose customers. If he says no, he can be fined or imprisoned. Anchorage is already a tolerant city. Vote 'no' on Proposition 5.

Watch the heinous display, AFTER THE JUMP. And to help the pro-inclusion group One Anchorage, click here.

Continue reading "More Anti-Trans Messaging In Anchorage Discrimination Battle" »


Ad Opposing Anchorage LGBT Anti-Discrimination Ordinance Warns of 'Transvestite' Child Care Workers: VIDEO

Anchorage

As weve mentioned several times in recent weeks, Anchorage is set to vote on April 5 on an anti-discrimination ordinance that LGBT advocates have been working to pass for 35 years, and opponents are ramping up their action against it.

An opposition group has begun running an offensive anti-gay and transphobic ad to convince voters to reject it.

The Anchorage Daily News reports:

In the ad, a cartoon "transvestite" who wants to work at a day care is drawn as a man with a jutting jaw and body hair, wearing a short pink dress, red high heels and lipstick. If Prop. 5 passes, the narrator of the ad says, "it will be illegal for Carol to refuse a job to a transvestite who wants to work with toddlers."

That imagery is an "offensive, stigmatizing and distorted" representation of a transgender person, said Trevor Storrs, a spokesman for the One Anchorage campaign.

One Anchorage held a press conference today asking opponents to remove it.

MinneryAlaska Family Council President Jim Minnery, who is behind the ad, defended it:

"I think it's a shocking flaw in Prop. 5 and shows profound disrespect to voters that the authors didn't feel it was important to provide a definition of transgender identity," Minnery said. He defended his group's free speech rights and said the cartoon caricature was meant to grab attention. "You kind of have to cut to the chase; you have 30 seconds," he said.

Since the law doesn't define transgender, why couldn't it include a cross-dressing man, Minnery asked.

Watch the ad, AFTER THE JUMP...

To help out One Anchorage with a donation, click HERE.

Continue reading "Ad Opposing Anchorage LGBT Anti-Discrimination Ordinance Warns of 'Transvestite' Child Care Workers: VIDEO" »


Anti-Discrimination Battle Coming To A Head In Anchorage

AnchorageAs you may know, Anchorage is currently embroiled in battle against anti-gay discrimination.

In less than two weeks, the Alaskan city's residents will vote on whether to include sexual orientation and gender identity in its anti-discrimination ordinance. While equality advocates are optimistic about their odds of passing Proposition 5, the Los Angeles Times reports that conservative Christians are ramping up their opposition and that it may be a drag out fight:

Antidiscrimination advocates say a new initiative on the April 3 municipal ballot — gaining almost more attention in Alaska these days than the U.S. presidential race — has won unprecedented support from faith leaders, including the Episcopal bishop and some 50 other churches and religious groups.

Twice as many churches have mobilized to defeat the measure.

Now, thousands of dollars in contributions from grass-roots advocates on both sides, as well as from donors outside Alaska, are funding an onslaught of television and radio ads as Alaska becomes the latest front in the national debate over gay rights.

Critics have mobilized church congregations and gathered support from religious conservative groups outside Alaska to warn Anchorage residents that the ordinance could strike a blow to business owners and jeopardize religious freedom.

In a television commercial, they warned that a gay bar owner who wanted to hire gay waiters and a Christian bookstore owner who wanted to hire straight booksellers could both run afoul of the ordinance if it is passed.

“No. 1, we don’t believe that there is widespread discrimination that’s preventing gays and lesbians from having jobs and getting loans and housing. There’s ample evidence from those in the [gay and lesbian] community who say Anchorage is a very tolerant place,” said Jim Minnery of the Alaska Family Council, who is heading the No-on-5 Protect Anchorage campaign.

Journalist Kim Murphy concludes, "As the campaign goes into its final week, no one is betting confidently on passage." Sounds pretty dire. Anyone interested in learning more about Yes on 5, the equality initiative working to pass Anchorage's anti-discrimination measure, check out their website.


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