Matanuska-Susitna Borough Attorney Nicholas Spiropoulos recommended denying the election contest by candidate Doyle Holmes and delivered a 53-page report to the Assembly and new Borough Mayor Vern Halter. The Assembly denied the contest and certified the election for District 7. Candidate Randall Kowalke took the oath of office tonight. He is seated on Monday as an Assembly Member.
In his outline of the contest of election investigation, Attorney Spiropoulos said no ballots were "switched" as Holmes had said during the investigative hearing.
Listen to the audio of Spiropoulos here.
"There's no bias injected into the vote because this alleged misconduct occurred after the polls closed. Everyone said the ballots were sealed at the precinct by the precinct workers, and the three clerks in Houston verified the seals were on the bag before they opened it and counted it," Spiropoulos said.
Spiropoulos also outlined the careful checks on ballot handling.
"No ballots were switched, during this investigation process the Canvass Board clearly talked about correcting the ballot accountability reports, what they do, how they look at things, that they review the partially used ballots..they didn't seem to recall whether they corrected the Talkeetna ballot accountability report or not, but they did say that there were two teams on the Canvass Board that do this and they have 41 precincts in the Borough. that means they're doing 20 each. So they didn't remember Talkeetna... so we pulled the Talkeetna ballot accountability report, and it had corrections, so we know that the Canvass Board counted the partial pads of unused ballots We know they are accounted for because the Canvass Board did it and they marked it in red ink. We also know that the full pads unused ballots are in that white box, because we saw them."
Kowalke addressed the Assembly and Borough Planning Commission.
"I feel terrible that the hard-working clerks from Houston from the Mat-Su Borough, had their integrity impugned, ...Canvassing Board folks whoever was involved. A free society allows the opportunity for individuals to take advantage of those situations. I think that's clearly what happened here. ..."
Deputy Borough Mayor Matthew Beck thanked Attorney Spiropoulos for the excellent report. Holmes has ten days from today to seek judicial review.
During the three-hour investigative hearing last week, Attorney Spiropoulos allowed Holmes time to address his notice of contest of election. Listen to the audio here between Holmes and Spiropoulos.
Photo of Assembly Member Randall Kowalke thanking Borough Clerk Lonnie McKechnie after taking the oath of office to represent District 7, the Meadow Lakes, Willow, Talkeetna areas.
Read the 53-page report here.
Photos and video by Mat-Su Borough Public Affairs—Stefan Hinman, Patty Sullivan.
This press release was edited to include the correction: the attorney recommended denying the election contest and the Assembly denied the election contest.