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(a) When marked ballots arrive either at the office of the commission or its designated ballot counting agent, the entire envelope must remain intact. Only those ballots that are delivered by hand to the commission, or those that are received without a postmark or with a postmark that is obliterated or illegible will be time and date stamped. Ballots then will be placed in a secure, locked container, including but not limited to, for example, a locked file, safe, or cabinet, and may not be removed until all ballots are received and the processing and tabulation begins. All ballots and ballot-related material must be returned to that container when the ballots are not being processed or used in processing, until disposed of under 3 AAC 49.070.
(b) The commission will, in its discretion, wait for 10 days after the deadline for receipt of ballots before beginning the processing and counting of ballots to ensure that all ballots postmarked by the deadline prescribed in AS 42.05.712 (c) have been received.
(c) The commission will appoint a team of counters from among its staff, and will designate one of the team as its chief. A team of at least three but not more than five counters will be so designated. If the number of ballots requires it, the commission may appoint more than one team of counters. At the commission's option, or at the utility's or cooperative's written request accompanied by its agreement to assume the costs, instead of appointing ballot counters from among its staff, the commission will, in its discretion, contract with the Division of Elections (Office of the Lieutenant Governor) or with an independent accounting firm to act as a ballot counting agent for the commission to count the ballots, tabulate the results, and report them to the commission for certification in accordance with AS 42.05.712 (e) and 3 AAC 49.010 - 3 AAC 49.080.
(d) The commission will notify the affected utility or cooperative and other interested parties as to the time, date, and place of ballot counting. Ballot counting will take place only during the commission's or a ballot counting agent's normal business hours.
(e) The utility or cooperative, or a group of subscribers or members in support of or in opposition to the deregulation question, may appoint, at its own expense, one or more poll watchers to observe the ballot counting process. No utility, cooperative, or group of subscribers or members may have more than one watcher on duty at a time to observe each counting team. The watcher may be present at the place of counting in a position which affords a full view of all action of the counters from the time the ballots are removed from their secure location until the ballots are finally counted and the results certified by the commission. The commission will, in its discretion, require each watcher to present written proof that he or she is the watcher appointed by the utility, cooperative, or group of subscribers or members he or she represents. The commission will ensure that proper decorum is maintained during the counting process to assure the privileges of the watchers and the proper, orderly conduct of the election.
(f) The ballot counting team first shall tabulate the total number of ballots received before the votes for and against the question are counted. If less than 15 percent of the eligible subscribers or members have returned ballots to the commission, the votes for and against the question need not be counted. If at least 15 percent have been returned, the team shall examine each mailing or outer envelope and will determine whether the voter is qualified to vote and whether the ballot has been properly cast by comparing the subscriber's or member's name and account or membership number on the outer envelope with the certified list of subscribers or members supplied by the utility or the cooperative. When this verification procedure is completed, the small envelope containing the ballot may be removed from the large mailing envelope in accordance with (i) of this section. The latter envelope must be retained until it is disposed of under 3 AAC 49.070.
(g) A ballot may not be counted if
(1) the voter has failed to properly execute the certificate containing his or her signature, printed or typed name, and account or membership number;
(2) the ballot, if postmarked, is not postmarked on or before the 30th day from the date of mailing or delivery of ballots to eligible voters; or
(3) the ballot is improperly marked under 3 AAC 49.040(a) .
(h) If a ballot is rejected, the counters will place all rejected ballots in a separate envelope with a statement of the reason the ballot or ballots were rejected. The envelope must be labeled "rejected ballots" and must be retained until disposed of in accordance with 3 AAC 49.070.
(i) If a ballot is not rejected, the large envelope must be opened and the small envelope containing the ballot must be placed in a container and mixed with other small envelopes. The small envelopes must be drawn from the container, opened, and the ballots removed and counted.
(j) Upon completion of the ballot counting, the counting team or teams, or the ballot counting agent, will execute a certificate indicating the total number of ballots cast, the total number of ballots counted, the total number of ballots rejected either under (g) of this section or 3 AAC 49.040(a) , and the total number of ballots cast for or against the ballot question. The commission will review the certified results, the tabulation, and the certification prepared by the counting team or teams or the counting agent, and issue its certification of the results, including certification that the procedural requirements set out in 3 AAC 49.010 - 3 AAC 49.060 have been adhered to or complied with. The commission will issue its certification by order or letter order.
History: Eff. 8/14/80, Register 75; am 1/7/81, Register 77
Authority: AS 42.05.151 (a)
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Last modified 7/05/2006