The Anchorage League of Women Voters asked the State to allow Anchorage voters to use the municipality’s new vote by mail system in the General Election in November, as muni voters did in the April 3 municipal election. The League had sent a resolution in May to the Division of Elections Policy Work Group, making the request.
The Division of Elections’ answer is “no.”
The explanation given is that to change the existing precinct-based system for state elections would require legislation to significantly modify Alaska State Statutes. such as AS 15.20.800. Voting by mail. (a) “The director may conduct an election by mail if it is held at a time other than when the general, party primary, or municipal election is held.”
Based on this and other state statutes, the Division of Elections said it will conduct the 2018 elections as “vote in person at a precinct voting location” with early and absentee voting opportunities still available, as usual.
Anchorage went to a mail-in ballot, plus had strategically placed drop boxes for those who wished to avoid the post office. In addition, there were a few in-person voting sites before and on Election Day, to help those who were uncomfortable with the mail-in process. The entire election timeframe took weeks to complete and doubled the cost of elections in Anchorage.
But absentee ballots have been the norm for years, and will continue to be used the Division said. It just requires a bit of extra work on the part of voters: They must apply for their ballots in advance. The deadlines for applying for an absentee ballot are:
Primary Election: August 11
General Election: October 27