David Kreiss-Tomkins is a graduate student in the Northern Studies program at the University of Alaska. Kreiss-Tomkins arrived at the Tanana Valley Fairgrounds precinct a little after 7 AM to find poll workers struggling with an Accuvote machine that wasn’t feeding properly. They had opened the machine up, and were extracting a jammed ballot.

“As a poll watcher that’s a pretty huge thing, I think. I made sure to stand right by that.”

An unsecured ballot box was one instance of a “voting irregularity” GOP adviser Floyd Brown last week claimed may have affected balloting against his candidate, Republican nominee for US Senate, Joe Miller. Brown produced a sworn affidavit from a Republican poll watcher at the same precinct, Rocky MacDonald, during a press conference where he alleged widespread fraud and intimidation during the election.

Kreiss-Tomkins had always seen things go pretty smoothly during elections in his hometown of Sitka. He does think it was irregular for precinct workers open a voting machine, but he says they had matters well in hand.

“My only experience as voting in Sitka, it was irregular in that I expect my vote to be tallied in the Accuvote machine when I come in. But I’m sure that the poll workers there were experienced and knew what was going on and were in touch with their higher-ups which is the important thing. So that someone knew about the process so that everything was followed and all the votes were going to be tallied.”

Kreiss-Tomkins says about thirty-five people were instructed to place their ballots in the side of the Accuvote’s locked ballot box, rather than feed them through the counter. He notified the Democratic party in Fairbanks that the machine was down. He says election workers brought a new memory card for the machine, and it was working properly again by 8:30 in the morning.

Kreiss-Tomkins didn’t hear about the Republicans’ protest over the matter until reading about it in the newspaper last week. He says the Republican poll watcher who filed the affidavit, Rocky MacDonald, was cordial to work with, but not particularly interested in the malfunction at the time.

“As far as I know he didn’t get up from his chair even, on the other side of the room from the Accuvote ballot box, to observe the machine being opened and to observe the poll workers manipulating the machine and the ballot.”

Kreiss-Tomkins says his poll watching shift ended at noon. He says he provided detailed notes on the incident to the Democratic party in Fairbanks.
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