Kake voters will get another chance to choose a new School Board member next month after discussions about confusing instructions on last month's city ballot.
The Kake City Council on Tuesday certified the community's Oct. 1 election results and will schedule a runoff election between Patti Handy and Cheryl Evan for one open seat on the Kake School Board, Mayor Paul Reese said.
The runoff likely will be combined with the general election on Nov. 5, he said. A runoff was required anyway because candidates need 40 percent of the vote to be elected, he added. Five candidates ran for School Board.
Kake, population 710, is about 95 miles southwest of Juneau on Kupreanof Island.
The decision came after weeks of community discussion about the city election ballot and procedures. The ballot instructed people to vote for three City Council candidates and one School Board candidate, but there wasn't a line between the two sections on the ballot and some people voted for three School Board members, Reese said. The council didn't count 22 mismarked ballots in Tuesday's certified School Board results.
People also were concerned some residents weren't on the state voter rolls and that the city hadn't met the needs of the senior citizens and the disabled, Reese said.
"There were valid concerns and important questions that needed to be answered," he said. "The council met days after the election to canvass and certify the results and we determined we couldn't do that."
Reese, who was out of town for two weeks in October to attend to a family illness, left the council to explore the issue. The council scheduled a re-election for Oct. 15.
"In the meantime, the community had become quite concerned. There was turmoil over the declaration of a second election," he said. "In reviewing the matter as quickly as I could, I determined the only answer at that point was to cancel or postpone the election. A mayor just can't cancel the election so I vetoed the action of the last City Council meeting. ... In my asking the council to reconsider, I was able to cancel-dash-postpone the election."
A part-time community health practitioner at the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium's clinic in Kake, Reese has been the mayor for about a year. With city hall closed, he posted a handwritten veto notice at the town's grocery store the weekend before the re-election.
"My veto was pretty rough and tumble. It could have been a heck of a lot smoother, but that's how you learn," he said. "We had a time crunch and I felt I had to."
At Tuesday's meeting, Reese said the council determined the Oct. 1 ballot was clear, legible and understandable, although the city will separate races with a line on the ballot next time. The city is discussing ways to improve access for homebound citizens who want to vote, he added.
"We're a small, rural community and we have a number of really unique challenges. The thing that's exciting to see is the democratic experiment come alive here," he said.
A person has to be registered within a local jurisdiction 30 days prior to the election for his or her vote to count, according to Pam Crowe, Southeast regional supervisor for the Division of Elections.
City Council member Delbert Kadake, who was running for re-election to the School Board, said about 230 people voted in the election. Of that total, the School Board race wasn't filled out correctly on 22 ballots. Another 14 ballots were from people who weren't on the voter rolls, he said.
Delbert Kadake and Vice Mayor Henrich Kadake didn't attend Tuesday's council meeting because they are attending the Alaska Federation of Natives convention in Anchorage, Delbert Kadake said.
According to the election results for Kake School Board as of Tuesday's meeting, Handy received 59 votes, Evan had 46 votes, Delbert Kadake had 41, Margaret Mach had 35 and Candi Anderson had 13. The School Board totals don't include 22 mismarked ballots and 14 questioned ballots, according to clerk Violette Anderson. Because names aren't on the questioned ballots, the city doesn't know if they are registered or not, she said.
The 22 mismarked ballots were included in the City Council totals.
Joanna Markell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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