Alaska Elections Director Gail Fenumiai retires

The State's Division of Elections will see a change in leadership after a long election season.
Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 6:58 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - After 11 years of service, Gail Fenumiai is retiring as Director of the Alaska Division of Elections, her last day being December 9.

“My husband’s been retired for six years, and I just felt that this is the right time for me to join him and enjoy the remainder of my time at home,” Fenumiai said.

Her tenure began in 2008. After leaving the position in 2015, she returned in 2019, serving for another more than three years.

Since returning, Fenumiai oversaw elections during the COVID-19 pandemic and the transformation of the state’s voting system to involve a top-four open primary and ranked-choice voting.

However, she’s proud of the work her staff managed to pull off during those difficult times. “Being able to pull off an in-person election in 2020 during COVID was very commendable. Staff worked really hard, and we tried our best to ensure safety of voters safety of workers,” she said.

Recently, Fenumiai said, misinformation has become more common, particularly concerning Dominion voting machines, voter fraud and the reliability of the election system. “I really, truly believe it’s a small minority that feel that way, but they’re very vocal about it,” Fenumiai explained.

This has created more difficulties for the job, which oversees five regional offices and involves taking responsibility for any issues. “Ultimately, the responsibility lies on the director’s shoulders to ensure that the elections are conducted, and conducted according to Title 15, and the buck stops with this person.”

Fenumiai’s position is appointed by Lieutenant Governor Nancy Dahlstrom, who will be responsible for securing her replacement.

Fenumiai has advice for whoever comes next. “Never think you know everything because you don’t. I learn every day new thinks, even though I’ve been in elections for many years.”

For now, she plans to fill her time with travel, family and relaxation.