Bryan Scoresby: Alaska elections are laughingstock of the nation, but it doesn’t have to be that way

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By BRYAN SCORESBY

Alaska elections have become the laughing stock of elections throughout the country right now. I have been in Alaska for only 30 years, missed one Matanuska-Susitna Borough election I can remember, always voted in person, and only twice voted early. I have no experience with voting absentee and the difficulties that those who vote that way have experienced. I am glad there is technology available so their votes are counted.  

Remember back in the day when we used to stay up late on election night watching “Election Central” on TV. Candidates and supporters alike would come in and cheer for their candidate when they were interviewed by the hosts in front of the TV camera. Candidates from both political parties were there with their supporters. The TV station would keep the audience updated as counts came in from precincts all over the state. By morning, we could read in the newspaper who had won, as all counting was completed, with very, very few exceptions.

Then came technology. Technology was supposed to make us more confident in the integrity of the election. We were told that elections would be improved, counting would be more accurate, faster and the computer would take fewer people they said. Don’t think it worked.  

I worked in a precinct two years ago, both in primary and general election. Took about an hour to set up and a couple hours to take down the equipment, reconcile all the ballot books against the ballots cast, double and triple check the accuracy of the ballot count. It was an honor to work the polls that year and do recommend that all able citizens take a turn and volunteer.  

Casting a ballot is a privilege, honor and rite as citizens that American’s hold dear. I want all voters to participate (sadly only 40.7% did) in the midterm election) and all votes to be counted.  Individual circumstances vary. Is it too much to ask for Division of Elections to keep a register for absentee requests and mail ballots out, soon as they arrive from the printer. Then voters could send their ballots back earlier to ensure they get counted.      

Timeline from this past election from Div. of Elections web site: 

  1. October 14. Target date for first mailing of absentee by-mail ballots to civilian voters
  2. October 29. Absentee By-Mail Request Deadline
  3. November 7. Deadline to receive absentee by electronic transmission ballot applications
  4. November 8. Election Day.  Deadline for absentee ballots to be postmarked.  Deadline for ballots returned by electronic transmission ballots to be received
  5. November 18. Deadline to receive absentee ballots mailed from within the U.S. and U.S. territories
  6. November 23. Deadline to receive by-mail ballots, mailed from overseas addresses

My suggestions for Legislative and Division of Elections changes.  

  1. Move up the deadline to receive mail in ballots to Election Day, not postmarked
  2. Keep a register for voters who request absentee ballots
  3. Change the last day to request an absentee ballot to first day ballots available like Oct. 14)
  4. Utilize some new technology so voting can be done remote to avoid mail delays. MEA does it
  5. Change the last day to vote early to the Friday before Election Day
  6. Count early votes on Election Day, just like the precinct does
  7. Process absentee ballots upon receipt and count on election day
  8. Keep early and absentee ballot counts secret till after polls close on Election Day
  9. Count all ballots cast on Election night and announce results
  10. Cleanup voter rolls.  2021 census has 550,189 adults of voting age. Elections have 601,795 eligible voters 

The Division of Elections web site has a wonderful mission statement to “ensure public confidence in the electoral process” with goals and explanations of how they insure integrity in our election. This writer does not share that confidence and many of my friends have expressed to me their lack of confidence.

My son was out of state for college and still on the rolls for all 10 years he was out of state. He did not vote an absentee ballot in Alaska, did not apply for a PFD, did not get a resident fishing license. He did get a new driver’s license in another state and voted there. I told him several times he was still registered to vote in Alaska as his name was next to mine on the register.

I call on the Legislature and Division of Elections to fix and clean up the broken parts of our election system now by tightening a few rules.  These 10 steps along and debate among interested citizens will identify all weaknesses. I want all eligible voters to vote and all valid ballots counted quickly. 

For my fellow citizens who plan to be out of state, request early. Make your actions show you want your ballot to count. Use the electronic system and avoid any mail delay or hurry your ballot back by overnight mail. I read somewhere that some 1,500 Alaskans voted an electronic ballot this year. I applaud those who do and did.  

One of our United States furthest from Alaska had a counting event in the 2000 election with hanging chads that became the focus of all America and the world to hand count their key punch ballots. Elected officials there determined to never have that much focus on their elections again.  Simple legislative changes were enacted. This year that state counted 7.5 million ballots in about 5 hours and announced results on election night!  Novel idea, isn’t it.  

Surely if another state can count 7.5 million in five hours, Alaskans can count 250,000 ballots in a couple hours. I call on all resident Alaskans to write and call your elected representatives now. Talk to them about fixing our election issues. Make your own list to expose the weaknesses in the current process. Share it with legislators to encourage them find the will to fix the negative elections. Don’t wait till the 2023 legislative session starts, write and call now.   

Bryan Scoresby lives in Palmer, Alaska

33 COMMENTS

  1. Elections are just the way we want them. Ineffectual, corrupt, and designed to keep the “proper” people in power.

    We had an opportunity to deal with this ( and many other issues) via the Constitutional Convention, but said “no, we like this exactly as they are”.

  2. All fine suggestions. Voting by mail should be reserved for those exceptional cases when a person truly cannot vote in person, either on election day or early. There is no reason we shouldn’t have results as fast as Florida.

  3. If we are going to use rank choice again maybe we can get the division to post all legal vote totals with preliminary ranking so we know the second votes…and it is transparent. Ranking we’re cast and should be given as the returns come in..Can a questioned ballot be questioned again in the second round..Why the secrecy about second and so on votes. This is a veiled attempt at keeping us in the dark. I want my cake frosting and sprinkles at the same time. We can add more frosting to the winner but the layers of the cake should be visible., A freedom of information request to our wholly owned elections division…

  4. There is an easy way to stop dead people from voting;
    With every election you vote in your registration is automatically
    renewed. Miss an election and your registration is automatically
    cancelled and you have to re-register to vote again. Should be
    easy to do with computers these days.

  5. Mr Scoresby should advise his son that it is a voter’s responsibility to notify DOE if he registers to vote in another State. Disenfranchising our overseas military voters with your suggested date changes will never fly.

    • Why can’t our oversees military personnel have precincts set up on base? They can vote on paper, the votes can be hand counted, the results could be phoned in to election central. There is no need for the long delay.

    • Clearly you don’t understand the terms you use. Moving dates forward does not disenfranchise anyone.

      It just means dates get moved forward.

      Do you have a job? A real job? One that requires you to regularly interact with others?

      When a meeting time is moved due to conflicts that affect the larger body, people adjust. No one is disenfranchised. Adults adjust.

    • Curiously, when that happens… the DOE does… well, nothing.
      I personally know of several people who moved out of state ages ago, and I can still look their name up on the DOE website. Still registered.
      And, I know for a fact that they notified the DOE they were no longer in state.

        • Correct. You can continue to claim residency.
          These people are not residents, and are registered to vote in the state they are currently living in.
          .
          Please, I know you are not the brightest bulb in the lamp, but other people actually do know what they are talking about. It is a foreign concept for you, but I am on top of it.

  6. Our elections are dysfunctional by design, not incompetence. We are ballot counting based, not legal vote counting based. Pennsylvania, Michigan and Arizona have also moved to ballot counting and insuring there are far more ballots to count than actual voters. Dunleavy was aware of this, but the system works for the Uniparty to keep control of power. The theatrics of conflict pretense is for appeasing the public.

  7. Restore Alaska’s election process to what it was before the advent of Ranked-Choice Voting and Dominion vote-tabulation gear.
    .
    Correct numerical discrepancies among ballots cast, number of voters who voted, and number of registered voters.
    .
    Verify state voter rolls are accurate, current, and populated with lawfully registered voters. Verify fraudulent voter registrations are not occurring at non-profit bum-housing sites with street addresses.
    .
    Make ballot harvesting a felony with presumptive sentencing.
    .
    Make the infusion of Zuckerbucks in all state borough, and city elections a felony with presumptive sentencing.
    .
    Enact a law requiring organizations which spend money on elections to disclose within 24 hours the identities of donors giving $10,000 or more during an election cycle, and requiring “dark money” recipients to forfeit donations which do not report donor identities.
    .
    Audit state elections with an Outside forensic analysis team and publish complete findings.
    .
    Establish mai-in voting with a statute modelled on Florida law (dos.myflorida.com/elections/for-voters/voting/vote-by-mail/)
    .
    Establish a process including Certified Handwriting Analysts which assures mail-in ballots are never arbitrarily rejected due to faulty handwriting comparisons.
    .
    Enact a law requiring election results to be completed and certified within 48 hours of Election Day.
    .
    Seems easy enough to do.
    .
    Problem is persuading public servants to do it.

  8. What a dull-witted column. The author fails to point out anything wrong with Alaska’s current system. What is the objection? Does he really miss softball election-night interviews conducted by Anchorage TV news anchors?
    Alaska TV news isn’t totally horrible, but Election Central interviews rarely added even a sliver of value to public discourse.

  9. Saw a bumper sticker today that pretty much reflects the mood of the post election country today – ” Don’t Vote, Revolt!”

  10. Problem is that people in general are not very well informed on the issues facing them. Show me someone who is willing to be lied to and extorted from and is willing to give the politicians more power and money. That’s what’s happening and it sure seams like voters are ok with it.

    • That’s what happens when you go to mail in voting, no excuse absentee voting, and month long voting. Make it too easy, and the uninformed vote.
      .
      I do not want more people to vote, I want more informed people to vote.
      And, there is a very easy way to tell who is informed enough to vote. They have the energy to make it happen, and they do so in person.

      • I suppose you are one who will determine who meets the definition of an informed voter? Informed of what, the truth? If so you wouldn’t be able to allow the majority of the posters on this site to vote!

        • I am.
          It is pretty simple. Human nature will weed out the uninformed.
          The folks that just cannot be bothered to vote in person, or apply for an absentee ballot on time are usually the uninformed. Those that think voting is important will take the time to cast an informed vote in person.
          Pretty simple test actually.

  11. Here’s a more realistic plan. Instead of complaining about the rules of the game, get better at it than the left.

    But the main thing the right is good at is making complains. Easier than actually acting.

  12. Two things are clear from the recent election; RCV and mail-in voting are untrustworthy. If we want free, fair, and secure elections, here are some changes that will achieve that.
    1. Eliminate RCV. Alaska should use traditional primaries and elections.
    2. A photo ID is required to vote.
    3. Electronic vote counting machines i.e., Dominion machines will be illegal in Alaska elections.
    4. Paper ballots will be used and hand-counted at the precincts on election day after the polls close.
    5. Hand counts will be conducted by teams consisting of one Democrat and one Republican per team, multiple “teams” will be present at each polling site. Team members must be approved by their respective parties.
    6. All vote counts will be reported to the DOE by midnight on election day.
    7. Any vote counts delivered after midnight on election day will not be included in the official count for the certified election.
    8. No electronic or online ballots will be accepted.
    9. Unmonitored drop boxes will be illegal.
    10. Mail-out ballots will be illegal.
    11. Ballot harvesting will be illegal.
    12. No absentee vote applications will be accepted by mail.
    13. To vote absentee, you must appear in person prior to the election, and confirm your identity with a photo ID.
    14. Any mail-in absentee ballots received after election day will not be counted. Only ballots received at the division of elections by 8:00 PM on election day will be counted.
    These suggestions will give us free, fair, and honest elections. Those who disagree are free to offer alternate suggestions for improvement. Anyone opposed to any changes must favor cheating in the election process. That’s my opinion, prove me wrong.

    • Hey, you should engage Kari Lake to assist you in the endeavor. She is available and a huge fan of free, fair, and transparent elections. Also just curious how you can prove an opinion wrong?

    • Greg, add; NO, federal agents from the Department of Injustice need to be present during elections…
      Their appearance adds to the suspicious win of the Demass party…
      Note, how we are a Red state, and the blues won…go figure…🤔

  13. How about preventing anyone from accessing voter rolls during an election cycle? It seems that one party in particular has become expert at scanning the rolls to find who has not yet “early” voted by election day and then turns up at their doors “suggesting” they sign already pre-marked ballots, which they will deliver to the polls for them.

    No one should be able to see who has or has not voted (except yourself) until after the election is over.

  14. Tinker with the election system as you will; it’ll still be the “mentally inert” and the “blatantly ignorant” that’ll be voting! Let’s get with it–hurry, hurry!

  15. Cleaning up the voters rolls would be a wonderful exercise, unfortunately I have yet to see a plan that would actually work. So me the supposed wide spread cheating that has gone on. If you move out of state notify the division of elections. The conservative crowd always will scream personal responsibility, but rarely seems to practice it.

  16. Most of the ‘system’ is well thought out. It’s the actual operation that’s twisted. For example, voter roles. Do we need a way of keeping a list of eligible voters? Of course! But the list is not kept current and is actually padded with ineligible voters names, which make it easy to collect and cast multiple votes. Let’s get this cleaned up!
    ‘Mail in ballots’ are another good idea gone bad. The system is set up so that IF you cannot attend the polling place, in person, on election day, you can apply for an absentee ballot. Notice I said ‘apply for an absentee ballot’ and not ‘mail in ballot’. The two are most definitely not the same thing. I spent a chunk of my adult life using absentee ballots due to military deployments. There are absolutely zero hardships involved in using them. You contact the proper office, prove your identity, and they send you your ballot complete with security envelope, and instructions for proper casting and return of that ballot. Again ‘mail in ballots’ are NOT absentee ballots and have no place in a secure election plan.
    Finally, vote the way America has always voted, in person. If you cannot be bothered with stopping by your polling place, anytime between 7 am and 8 pm, I do not consider you a citizen and you should not be voting anyways.
    Remember the two ways we need to limit voting to; in person, and if not able, absentee ballot. These two ways cover 100% of the excuses for voting and have the advantage of severely limiting ones ability to cheat the system.

  17. Hahaha our elections aren’t what makes us the laughing stock of the nation.. it’s our blatant spending of peoples tax dollars. Year after year decade after decade… America is sick of flipping the bill for Alaska. We can’t pay our own way and never have. We are the welfare state of the nation. We are hilarious bums that are lazy to the hard working people of the lower 48 that keep sending us checks. Period.

  18. Headline for this column unwarranted. Many, perhaps even all, of the suggestions deserve a hard look from the Alaska Legislature. With any luck, a savvy legislator will ask Legislative Affairs to draft up a bill enacting these proposals for introduction and consideration.

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