State elections director retires; boss says misinformation takes toll on workers

Alaska’s top elections administrator left her job and retired last week, after overseeing the state’s first ranked-choice elections.

Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai, 60, has held the job since 2019, when she was appointed by former Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer. She previously served as the state’s elections director between 2008 and 2015, and is a 20-year veteran of administering Alaska’s elections.

Meyer, who announced his retirement from politics late last year and was replaced by Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom on Dec. 5, attributed Fenumiai’s departure to the toll of election misinformation that has weighed on election officials since 2020, when former President Donald Trump cast doubt on the results of the presidential election, leading to a wave of unfounded election denialism from his supporters.

“It was a challenge at times to educate and convince people that maybe the information that they got from the MyPillow Guy isn’t necessarily accurate and you should trust your election folks who actually work here on the frontlines,” Meyer said Dec. 6, referring to avid Trump follower Mike Lindell.

“It didn’t impact me so much because I’m used to — having been in the Legislature so long — you’re used to having people who don’t necessarily agree with you. But it did take a toll on our election workers,” he said.

“We are losing a lot of knowledge and talent out of our elections department. That concerns me and I’ve talked to Nancy about it,” Meyer added, referring to the incoming lieutenant governor, who will oversee Alaska’s elections and be responsible for choosing Fenumiai’s successor.

Dahlstrom has declined to speak about her position on the outcome of the 2020 presidential election or the administration of Alaska’s elections.

In addition to Fenumiai, the election administrator overseeing the Fairbanks office — one of five regional offices across the state — has left the division, effective earlier this month.

 

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