Juneau Assembly considers going vote-by-mail for future elections - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, June 13, 2021
HomePoliticsJuneau Assembly considers going vote-by-mail for future elections

Juneau Assembly considers going vote-by-mail for future elections

Juneau conducted its local elections in October via vote-by-mail. It was the community’s pubic health response to Pandemic 2020.

To make the switch from precinct-centered elections, the City and Borough of Juneau contracted with the Municipality of Anchorage’s Election Division. Anchorage has had a vote-by-mail system since 2018, the first city in Alaska to run its elections almost solely by mail.

This year, the Juneau Assembly is thinking about establishing vote-by-mail as the standard going forward. The next local election is Oct. 5, and voters will choose the next mayor. Also, Assembly member Loren Jones is finishing his third term and he can’t run again due to term limits, and Assembly member Michele Bonnet Hale is finishing her first term; her seat will also be on the ballot. There may be bonds and ballot initiatives as well.

The mail-in election last year cost Juneau $175,000, 56 percent higher than a typical municipal election in Juneau, which averages $98,000. While 27,789 ballots were mailed, 11,836 were returned, 42 percent.

With a city that only has about 31,970 residents, 27,789 is a beefy number of ballots printed. It would indicate there are only 4,181 residents under the age of 18 in Juneau. With 4,648 students enrolled in Juneau public schools, there appeared to be a generous number of extra ballots in that election; certainly, anyone who wanted to vote could do so.

Other critics say that any change to the way voting has been done in the past needs to include more public input. There’s no health emergency that would necessitate mail-in voting this year.

Election integrity is a concern. Many in Anchorage have reported ballots being sent to nonresidents in other states, years after those people had moved from Anchorage. Voters say they don’t understand why voters are not cleared from the voting rolls after they move away and are voting in other jurisdictions.

Last year, the Kenai’s Borough Assembly voted to switch to vote-by-mail, a move that was vetoed by Mayor Charlie Pierce. His veto was quickly overridden by the Assembly.

The matter ended when citizens got a petition going and were able to reverse the decision via the ballot box.

Read: Voters in Kenai repeal mail-in election that was brought on by Assembly

The regular Juneau Assembly meeting starts at 7 pm Monday, is conducted via Zoom teleconference, and can be watched at this link.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Sure, why not? Another progressive stronghold with more ballots than residents. What could go wrong?
    One legal resident, one legal vote, in person, verified, and strongest penalties for cheating.

  • They cannot win if they don’t cheat. This is one of the metrics used in November. For political science and honest polling follow Peoples Pundit, Rich Baris ytube and other places.

  • And, that is the last time a conservative gets elected to the JNU Assembly or Mayor’s office.

  • It is a liberal socialist city, fraudulent activity is important to democrats.

  • I live in Juneau and our entire Assembly are Liberals. Our property taxes are rising, we’re getting a new fleet of electric buses, a huge new homeless facility, free child daycare is being set up, we have a mask mandate that will never go away, the list goes on. They live downtown and guess what? All new construction over 4 units in the downtown area will not pay property taxes for 12 years to revitalize downtown (its looking very third world).

  • Boy is the stupid ever strong on here.

  • BILL YANKEE, right. We don’t even need elections; the elites are so divinely (perhaps an improper term) inspired that they know best for the unwashed ignorant masses and honest elections only gum up the works on the road to utopia. Plato explained it (The Republic and other writings) and over history his dreams have worked out so well every time tried: Dionysius II of Syracuse, The French Revolution, The Russian Revolution, The Hugo Chavez Revolution of Venezuela and so many others. We don’t need honest elections when we have such inspired leaders. We only need AR15s.

  • Alaska has several categories of “resident,” for example resident for hunting/fishing, voting, tax purposes, census, etc.. They tend to be different and to attempt comparing one to another missed the point entirely IMO.
    “With a city that only has about 31,970 residents, 27,789 is a beefy number of ballots printed. It would indicate there are only 4,181 residents under the age of 18 in Juneau.” This statement is a classic misunderstanding of these differences. People often move to other districts and don’t always change their voting status for years even. While this behavior is confusing for some, the crux of this is that elections officials have to make sure that these folks do not vote in more than one place. As long as that’s the case (only voting once) nobody really cares that much about their residency-sort of the honor system.

  • BILL YANKEE, yes, the ‘honor system’. Just like a bank can leave the vault open and ‘honorable’ people won’t help themselves. Just like on the open highway there is no need for cops because everyone will ‘honor’ the speed limit. Or stores don’t need registers because people will ‘honor’ the pricing and deposit the proper money in the can. Oh, on that last note, after many years our biggest you-pick farm closed up because not only were there occasional produce thefts (tolerable) but ‘honorable’ people lifted the whole kitty. That’s how the system works. Try leaving bags of $100 dollar bills on the bus and see how many return to you (I believe that most will because most people are honorable, but some are not and for that reason we need cops and verified ballots with voter ID).

    • Your comments are never well-thought out AK.
      There are residency requirements for voting but they don’t require you to be in the State at the time of the vote, hence absentee ballots. Lots of folks are out of their district or State, and even are predominantly living elsewhere (say winter home) but as long as they keep their voting registration in AK and don’t attempt to register in another State they are good to go. Even more concerning is making sure none of these residents voting from outside do not vote in another State.
      This has nothing to do with voter ID-there are signatures required on absentee ballots, similarly to vote by mail ballots-something state of WA has been doing for some time without fraud and Juneau can easily avoid any fraud here too. How you going to do voter ID with absentee ballots? You can’t any more than you can with voting by mail.
      I suggest you look into how much fraudulent voting has taken place in WA and they’ve been doing it for years for millions of ballots. You are thinking of a solution where no problem exists except in your mind IMO.

  • Bill Yankee, Ah but a judge arbitrarily waived the witness requirement and the signature requirement is also quite arbitrary to judge. In Wisconsin it seems that they had whole stacks of ballots counted with similar signatures, but of course you won’t believe that so long as they vote progressive. Yes, let’s look at King County where enough ballots always get ‘found’ after the elections to put the progressives back into office.
    From the Seattle Times: Workers accused of concocting the biggest voter-registration-fraud scheme in state history said they were under pressure from the community-organizing group that hired them to sign up more voters, according to charging papers filed Thursday.
    To boost their output, the defendants allegedly went to the downtown Seattle Public Library, where they filled out voter-registration forms using names they made up or found in phone books, newspapers and baby-naming books.
    One defendant “said it was hard work making up all those cards,” and another “said he would often sit at home, smoke marijuana and fill out cards,” according to a probable-cause statement written by King County sheriff’s Detective Christopher Johnson.
    From KIRO: Our friends at KIRO 7 TV heard a similar story from a Woodinville man. King County Elections admitted they send out “10s of thousands of second ballots” to voters every year because if your address changes, your eligibility for voting on different measures does too. This costs 10s of thousands of dollars in postage, as KIRO 7 TV reported. However, King County Elections is assuring voters that no one is going to vote twice….King County Elections and the Democrat Party blatantly stole the governor’s race from Dino Rossi and gave it to Christine Gregoire when they magically “found” a bunch of ballots in the second recount that allowed Gregoire to win.

    • For some reason Suzanne deleted my argument here but here goes again AK: Your argument is based on “allegedly” which is essentially a tooth fairy argument IMO.
      Your turn.

  • I can only speculate but it may be that for some reason the “progressives” think that they need to broaden the potential for ballot harvesting in Juneau to sustain their hold on the reigns of power. While only speculating a bit more, I would image that a move to mail-in “voting” will likely have a lengthening of the time during which a ballot may be cast and received. It simply takes time to successfully harvest enough ballots to obtain the desired result..

  • BILL YANKEE, rightttt. Lee Harvey Oswald ‘allegedly shot Kennedy. Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam ‘allegedly’ kidnapped, tortured and mutilated Emmett Till, later bragging about their crime after being freed by the jury. Right. Tell that to your ;tooth fairy’.
    In Fulton County, Georgia, bastion of honest elections, the republican party held election for chairman. Upon counting votes, more votes were found than people in the room. Upon demanding revote, the favored, previously winning chairman, lost by significant margin. The party overruled and appointed him anyway. Another ‘tooth fairy’ story (Newsweek).

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