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Judge Orders Division of Elections To Preserve Copies of Election Records


November 08, 2006

Anchorage Superior Court Judge Stephanie Joannides ordered the Alaska Division of Elections on Tuesday to preserve backup copies of the state's 2006 electronic computer database and subsequent tallies of the election results.

The Division of Elections had refused to make backup copies of the Diebold computer GEMS database in response to a request from the Alaska Democratic Party, which on Tuesday sought an emergency court order requiring that copies be preserved of these election records.

"The people of Alaska have a right to have all the public records related to our election. We are pleased that the court has ordered the Division to preserve these records," said Jake Metcalfe, chair of the Alaska Democratic Party.

"What conceivable reason could there be for failing to keep copies of these important records?" asked Metcalfe.

The Division claims it did not keep copies of the 2004 electronic databases as they were modified through the counting process, and they did not maintain a correct copy of the final version or an audit trail that could be verified to determine whether the results are correct, Metcalfe said.

"Preserving public access to these important records is the reason that the Democratic Party went to court. The action we took is an attempt to prevent a repeat of the incompetence that happened in counting the votes from Alaska's 2004 general election," Metcalfe said.

The court issued a temporary restraining order stating that the Division must make backup electronic copies on disk of the GEMS database as it exists on election night and again at the conclusion of each day in which the Division of Elections enters votes manually into the system.

The Democrats want to receive those electronic records as the changes are made and before the election is certified, which is expected to occur by Dec. 7. The court has not yet ruled on the issue of when the copies of the database will be released.

"It's important that we get the data before it is too late to do anything about any problems that may come up. The databases we are seeking are public records, and the law says they have to give us those records as soon as practicable. The Division of Elections didn't want to make back-up copies, and we had to get a court order to force them to do so. They don't want to provide the information to the public in a timely way - they say they won't provide any of the electronic data until after the election is certified. That is not acceptable," Metcalfe said.



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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska