Anchorage voters to cast ballots by mail
October 1, 2017
Anchorage is transitioning to Vote by Mail elections. This is an exciting advancement for our local Anchorage elections. Vote by Mail jurisdictions keep regular voters engaged, encourage new voter participation, and capture fraud attempts by verifying signatures.
Anchorage began exploring alternative voting options in 2014 at the direction of Ernie Hall, former Chair, Anchorage Assembly Ethics and Election Committee. Former Assembly Member Hall had three concerns with Anchorage Municipal Elections. First, low voter turnout: voter participation in the last five years shows 24 percent of registered voters engaged in the municipal election process. The voter turnout has ranged from 20.15 percent to 35.82 percent in the last five years.
A second concern is the inefficient use of community resources. For each Municipal Election the Clerk’s Office sets up 122 polling locations from Peters Creek to Girdwood; these locations are supplied with everything: voting booths, ballots, posters, pens and paper clips. There is a tremendous amount of resources and energy that goes into supplying and providing equipment to the polling locations, especially given our low voter turnout.
The third concern is the challenges associated with recruiting, training and retaining election workers. The Municipality of Anchorage hires over 600 election workers to process voters on Election Day. These one-day workers are tasked with the incredible job of helping our residents execute their fundamental rights as citizens to vote. Each year we lose workers to retirement, exhaustion from the full day of work, or the allure of the Lower 48 during break-up season. It has been difficult to find and engage new workers to staff poll-based elections.
The April 3, 2018 Regular Municipal Election will be the first election in Anchorage as a Vote by Mail jurisdiction.
The Clerk’s Office is looking forward to educating voters about this new process. All qualified registered voters in the Municipality will receive a ballot at their mailing address. Using trusted resources, voters will have the opportunity to study the issues on the ballot. The Vote by Mail process is as easy as 1-2-3!
1. Vote your ballot, filling in the ovals completely, place it in the security envelope, then place both into the ballot return envelope.
2. Sign the declaration on the back of the ballot return envelope.
3. Return your ballot with a first class stamp through the United States Postal Service or save postage and return it to an accessible vote center or a secure drop box.
There will be 12 secure drop boxes set up across the municipality, so most Anchorage residents will live within five miles of a drop box. If voters return their ballots well in advance of Election Day, their votes will be reported with results on Election Day at 8 p.m.
Do you want more information about vote by mail? See the Frequently Asked Questions on our website, contact the Municipal Clerk’s Office at 243-VOTE (8683), or visit our website, http://www.muni.org/votebymail.
Barbara A. Jones is a municipal clerk for the city of Anchorage.