NOW, NORM BLAKELY PLANS TO TAKE IT TO THE VOTERS
Norm Blakely, an Assembly member in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, wants voters on the peninsula to decide whether the borough should move to a mail-in election.
It’s not right that just six people on the Assembly have decided to take local elections in a new direction, he says.
Blakely’s petition for a referendum on mail-in voting comes after the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly voted 6-3 Tuesday to override Mayor Charlie Pierce’s veto of the vote-by-mail ordinance. He needs 1,362 signatures to get it onto the October ballot.
The Assembly had passed by the vote-by-mail ordinance on June 3 and again on reconsideration on June 16.
Pierce’s veto, had it stood, would have axed the creation of a hybrid in-person and by-mail election for the borough. The hybrid system means every registered voter in the borough will receive a mail-in ballot, starting in 2021.
The ordinance also changed rules pertaining to runoff elections, giving the borough election office more time between a regular election and a runoff election to get ballots in the mail.
In Mayor Pierce’s veto note, he said that the public deserves the opportunity to vote on such a wholesale change to the election system. He said that the security of ballots and the opportunity for fraud would also increase if ballots were mailed out to people who had not requested them.
Only Norm Blakely, Kenn Carpenter and Jesse Bjorkman voted to uphold the veto. But the other six Assembly members were enough to override it.
Voter fraud took place recently with absentee ballots in District 15 Anchorage, when numerous ballots were submitted by voters who were dead or not living in the district during the legislative race in 2018. Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux won that election but is now facing felony and misdemeanor charges for her role in the voting scam.
Mayor Pierce said that having just six people in the borough change the entire election system erodes trust.
“I vetoed this, as I think it was the right thing to do. People should be allowed to vote on their fate of going to vote by mail or not. The Assembly overrode my veto last night. Assemblyman Norm Blakely is leading the effort to gather 1300 signatures to get this back on the ballot so that the people of this Borough, not just six assembly folks, can decide the fate of Borough-wide Vote By Mail,” Pierce said.