By KEVIN MEYER
As the special primary election to fill Alaska’s vacant seat in Congress is wrapping up, and the final votes are being counted and certified, I thought it would be a good time to dispel some of the misinformation that continues to be spread across the state regarding ballots, our voting process, and the equipment we use to conduct the various elections.
First, let me clarify that I, along with everyone at the Division of Elections, am committed to overseeing fair and honest elections in Alaska.
I have heard allegations that our by-mail primary election was conducted illegally. This is false: Alaska conducts all state elections in accordance with state law and has been given authority under Alaska Statute 15.20.800 to conduct elections by mail when they are not held at the usual time for an election.
In this case, state law requires the special primary election to be held on a date that is no less than 60 nor more than 90 days from the vacancy of the seat.
The short window of time caused challenges because the Division of Elections could not recruit and train the more than 2,000 personnel and deploy the equipment necessary for an in-person statewide election by that time. We have more than 400 precincts to staff across the state, including the very small rural villages. This means the Division needed to conduct the special primary election by mail. Note that this is the only by-mail election; the regular primary and general elections will be conducted normally, as directed by state law.
There will be just two more statewide federal elections this year, our regular primary election will be held on Aug. 16, and this ballot will include the special general election for the vacant congressional seat.
Both the special general (Aug. 16) and regular general (Nov. 8) ballots will be formatted according to the new election law, and voters will have to rank their choices for each race. There will be abundant voter education coming from the Division, candidates, and other parties over the next four to five months. Please take a minute to learn about this new process or request a presentation.
Over the past four years, I have heard that Alaska’s voter rolls are inaccurate and contain more voters than eligible adults currently in the state. The Division of Elections conducts continual voter list maintenance as Federal and State laws prescribe. Once a voter is on the list, removing a non-voter takes about four to five years — this is a Federal law.
The increased number of registered voters is directly tied to Alaska’s Automatic Voter Registration system through the Permanent Fund dividend. We have thousands of Alaskans on the voter list who did not ask to be registered, do not plan to vote, and may not live in-state any longer. Without their direct communication with the Division, removing them from the master list is incredibly difficult. This automatic voter registration when applying for a PFD was enacted by initiative, and for the Division of Elections to keep our list accurate, it needs to be changed.
Last legislative session, Gov. Mike Dunleavy and I advocated for a simple change to the law that would require voters affirmatively opt-in to the voter registration portion of the PFD application. This will significantly help clean up the voter rolls properly and efficiently. This will ensure those who want to be registered voters, will be registered. Those who don’t, won’t be. Unfortunately, the Legislature was not able to get an election reform bill passed this session. I hope they address this issue in 2023.
There continues to be misinformation that our Dominion equipment changes votes and reports fraudulent results — this is simply untrue. We do not use voting machines — rather, we utilize ballot tabulators that are not connected to the internet and simply count the voted paper ballots.
After extensive hand recounts of random precincts in all 40 house districts, some challenged districts, and the statewide initiative Ballot Measure No. 2, the state nonpartisan review boards found no examples of widespread fraud or intentional misconduct by election officials and no evidence that the equipment used to tabulate and report election results functioned improperly. The Dominion equipment is tested by a non-partisan review board before being deployed to the precincts.
The state conducted multiple reviews and hand counts of 2020 election races, all of which affirmed the tabulator results. Those general election hand count results are available on the Division’s website. Additionally, Alaska has been, and always will be, a paper-ballot state. We will always have the ballots to review and verify our elections’ results.
We receive multiple emails and phone calls per week propagating the same misunderstandings and misinformation about elections being spread by national groups with no connection to Alaska or understanding of how elections are run here in the Last Frontier. But please find out for yourself, volunteer to help at the polling places, volunteer for early or absentee voting, or simply be an observer on election day. We want and need your help!
Please verify the information you read before sharing or retweeting allegations that have no basis on how we do elections in Alaska. For more information, please visit the Alaska Division of Elections website: www.elections.alaska.gov. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you feel something doesn’t look correct. We will have the state troopers investigate election fraud.
Kevin Meyer is the lieutenant governor of Alaska.