With 90 percent of the precincts reporting, 58 percent of voters had voted against the measure known as Proposition 5, which would have amended Anchorage’s Title 5 non-discrimination code.
City elections officials noted that with an unexpectedly high turnout, some polling places reported running out of ballots, and that there were a large number of votes that might be on “questioned” ballots, which will be required to be counted by hand.
Opponents of Proposition 5 had sent out an alert email and Facebook message Tuesday stating — incorrectly — that residents could register and vote on election day, when in fact Anchorage voter laws require residents to register to vote at least 30 days prior to an election.
It wasn’t immediately clear how much of an effect that information had on the turnout.
The Anchorage Daily News reported that Proposition 5 was the third attempt by LGBT advocates to outlaw discrimination against LGBTQ people since the city’s charter took effect in 1975, but Tuesday was the first time the issue had been voted on in a municipal election.
The effort to pass it started in December 2011 when the One Anchorage campaign collected the signatures of 13,515 registered voters to place the initiative on the ballot.
The One Anchorage campaign argued that legal protections for LGBTQ residents were overdue and instances of discrimination demonstrated a need for the law.
Opponents, campaigning as Vote No On Prop. 5, complained that the law was vague and poorly written and would impinge on the religious freedom of residents opposed to homosexuality. The proposition included an exemption from the law for churches and religious organizations.
The Vote No On 5 group had launched a controversial campaign against the ballot measure, using cartoon scenarios portraying likely scenarios it claimed would occur if the law passed.
Alaska is one of 14 states with no protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.