There were an unusual number of questioned ballots on Tuesday, Gruenstein said. Some Facebook posts -- she wouldn't say whose -- told voters they could vote in any precinct. Many people in fact voted in the wrong precinct on a questioned ballot, she said. That drained polling places of ballots that could have been used by people who live in the precinct, she said.
For instance, the city initially provided 800 ballots to a polling place at the Anchorage School District offices in the Boniface Mall that normally sees about 500 voters. That wasn't enough.
"They called for and received another 150," Gruenstein said. And when those ran out, polling workers turned to paper sample ballots, a standard procedure, she said.
THE PROP. 5 FACTOR
Of the ballots counted Tuesday, voters overwhelmingly rejected the gay-rights ballot initiative, and endorsed Mayor Dan Sullivan for a second term.
In a written statement issued Wednesday, the One Anchorage Campaign, which pushed for passage of the gay-rights measure, Proposition 5, said, "While the vote totals released to date indicate that Prop 5 did not receive sufficient votes to become law, we know our long-term journey towards full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Alaskans will one day -- and soon -- become a reality."
The group said it was monitoring vote-counting.
"We understand that there are thousands of ballots that have not yet even been counted, and additionally that Anchorage voters have expressed concerns with the conduct of the election," the group said.
Late Wednesday afternoon, the leader of the opposition to Prop. 5 said "we had common sense on our side, and it resonated with voters."
Jim Minnery, head of the Protect Your Rights -- Vote No on Prop. 5 group, wrote that the measure's defeat "means Anchorage remains a free city, where most people practice 'authentic' tolerance. Authentic tolerance means we don't try to use the force of law to coerce people into endorsing behavior or viewpoints they disagree with.
Minnery also said he had to eat "humble pie" over an e-mail he sent out Tuesday afternoon telling people on his list that they could register at the polls Tuesday and vote immediately. The information was also posted on the group's Facebook page.
"Did you know that people can register and vote at the same location and it doesn't even have to be at their precinct location?" Minnery wrote in his e-mail. " PLEASE take a few minutes now and call or text or e-mail ONE MORE PERSON and remind them to get to any polling station to cast their NO vote on Prop. 5."
That information on same-day registration was wrong, he acknowledged Wednesday in another mass e-mail. Someone had asked him whether registering and voting on Election Day was possible. He said he checked with the city clerk's office and was told it was allowed as long as the person had lived in Anchorage at least 30 days.
Not true. Newly registered voters are allowed to cast questioned ballots, but they won't count, Gruenstein said. She said she asked Minnery who he talked to and he didn't have a name.
People must be registered to vote in the city at least 30 days before the election to have their vote counted, the clerk said. So why did they get to vote? The city wants to be cautious, Gruenstein said. "It's always our rule that anybody who shows up gets to cast a ballot and it's up to the Election Commission to reject or accept that ballot," she said.
In February, Minnery sent out a different message, reminding people they needed to be registered by March 4 in order to vote, which was true.
Some speculated that Minnery's more recent message caused a surge of unqualified voters and drained precincts of ballots.
"It's hard to imagine, let alone implement, that kind of monumental scheme," Minnery said in Wednesday's e-mail.
The city hasn't yet tallied how many of Tuesday's voters registered that day. A statement from the clerk's office that just 121 of the questioned ballots were from newly registered voters was preliminary. The figure could be much higher, Gruenstein said.
Next Wednesday, the city Election Commission is scheduled to make final decisions on whether certain absentee and questioned ballots should be counted, and then remaining ballots will be tallied, Gruenstein said.
The count may take a couple of days, she said.
To read more, visit www.adn.com.Michelle Theriault contributed to this story.