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Win Gruening: Alaska should make it easy to vote, hard to cheat


After Alaska’s Online Voter Registration System was breached last year, along with 2020’s contentious election, and what is shaping up to be a similar one in 2022, it’s essential that our state election officials evaluate potential changes to ensure our state voting system remains secure. 

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Toward this end, Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer recently announced forthcoming administration-backed legislation entitled the Election Integrity Bill.  In draft form now, it includes elements of election reform legislation introduced by both Republican and Democratic legislators.

While common areas of agreement among all legislators exist, this well-intentioned modest effort could become controversial if rational debate devolves into partisan exaggerations and emotional hyperbole.

The reasonable voting changes that were enacted last year in the state of Georgia, for example, were labeled by President Joe Biden as “Jim Crow on steroids.” The controversy was later described by The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board as, “…a stew of falsehood, propaganda and panic.” The Journal blamed the uproar on partisan distortions, echoed by the media, and “CEOs of major companies who are uninformed at best or cowardly at worst.”

This doesn’t need to happen in Alaska and consensus is possible if we focus on the facts – not partisan message points.

This is especially important as three significant impacts will simultaneously influence our next statewide election:  Newly formed election districts under redistricting; a completely new and complicated voting system (Ranked Choice Voting); and the likely continuation of widespread absentee balloting.

In 2012, the Pew Foundation released a report on the voter registration systems maintained by the states. The report found that approximately 24 million – one in every eight – voter registrations were either inaccurate or no longer valid. More than 1.8 million deceased individuals were listed as voters and 2.75 million individuals were registered to vote in more than one state.

Last month, the Heritage Foundation published an Election Integrity Scorecard, which, for the first time, compared the election laws and regulations of each state.  Alaska is ranked in the middle at #25 with state of Georgia ranked #1.  This would indicate that, while Alaska’s voting system has served us adequately, there is room for incremental improvement.

Accordingly, Alaska’s Election Integrity Bill is intended to address areas of concern that have arisen in our state. To date, changes being considered are:

  • Updating and streamlining the state voter database.  Census data in Alaska have revealed that an estimated 42,000 names on the current state voter list may not be legal voters. Cumbersome and lengthy procedures to remove invalid names would be modified.
  • Requiring Permanent Fund Dividend applicants to affirmatively opt-in (to register to vote) instead of automatically being added to voter rolls.
  • Delineating procedures which allow observers during election recounts.
  • Defining procedures for “curing” of ballots incorrectly filed or filled out.
  • Allowing the expansion of mail-in voting in small election districts where poll elections are difficult to administer.
  • Defining election fraud and fund training of law enforcement to investigate possible crimes. Provide forroutine forensic examinations, chain of custody protocols, and ballot tracking systems.
  • Enhancing signature verification requirements and acquiring associated equipment.
  • Postage-paid envelopes for returning absentee ballots. 

These changes are designed to make voting more straightforward and less complicated while recognizing the importance of each individual vote. 

Given the high stakes of elections today, the incentive to cheat is always present. The June 2021 formal accusation of former Alaska legislator, Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, for voting irregularities is the most recent example of that.

The Democratic Party’s tiresome practice of describing every proposal to increase election security as “voter suppression” will not serve to ultimately increase voter turnout. Ironically, it may do just the opposite. 

In Alaska, very few election crimes are prosecuted as they remain rare. But vulnerabilities in our system that make election fraud easier to commit (and harder to detect) diminish voters’ faith in the integrity of our elections – thereby discouraging voter participation.

President Thomas Jefferson noted that “we do not have a government by the majority. We have a government by the majority who participate.” To increase participation, Americans must have faith and trust in an election system that guarantees their votes matter. 

After retiring as the senior vice president in charge of business banking for Key Bank in Alaska, Win Gruening became a regular opinion page columnist for the Juneau Empire. He was born and raised in Juneau and graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1970. He is involved in various local and statewide organizations.



  1. The idea of calling an election stolen or unfair simply because you lost is not only distasteful; it is dangerous to our democracy in our Constitutional Republic. Over 60 courts looked at fraud claims in the 2020 election, and not one, NOT ONE, found any fraud that would change one state’s electoral college results. This attack on our electoral process must stop, and it all boils down to one man, Donald Trump, who has too fragile of an ego to accept the fact that he lost a fair and square election!

    • Chris, you are merely trotting out the dishonest and stupid talking points of the establishment here. Over 60 courts did NOT look at fraud claims — the vast majority of them refused to acknowledge reams of evidence, because it was to their political advantage (and to the political advantage of those who control the judicial and legal system) to do so.
      The more pro-establishment, conformist and servile lackeys for the powers-that-be spout such specious, dishonest and empty claims such as you are doing here, the more those with any sense of independent judgement and critical thinking ability will see through those lies and propaganda.
      Yes, Donald Trump almost certainly won the 2020 presidential election, or would have anyway in the absence of systemic and coordinated fraud. You can chant your shallow and silly establishment talking points and mantras all you want, but nothing can take away from the reality of the situation. And I say all this not even being a fan of Donald Trump.

    • No court examined any substantive evidentiary claims; the decided everything on procedural grounds so that they could avoid the substantive controversy; you communists got away with it so far.

    • They refused to even”look at” the evidence, relying on” nanny nanny boo booo”. You don’t have standing so I refuse to even let you present evidence

    • You do know that Hillary Clinton is still bemoaning the election in 2016 as not being on the level and that “we don’t know what happened.” Do you also remember (ever hear) there were several Democrat Representatives who challenged various state’s Electoral College votes on January 6, 2017, in an attempt to prevent the election of Trump? Trump lost and can’t seem to get over it, but he and his supporters do not have a monopoly on claims of fraudulent elections. Hillary is still whining five years later. As to the courts, many of their decisions were based on technicalities, not on the lack of evidence of fraud, so complaining that they didn’t find what they didn’t look for is stretching the point a bit.

    • The US Constitution gives the authority of the Where, When, and How states vote to State Legislatures. Here in Alaska a Judge determined that we needed to loosen our voter signature verification process. Fraud? Deceit? Shenanigans? Outside our Constitutional bounds for sure. We all fully agree that the attacks on our voting systems must end. To point out irregularities, anomalies, and cases of fraud are actually defenses moves. “Jungle Primaries” “Broadcast” ballot mailing, “Rank Choice” (pun intended), and other needlessly complicated hi-jinx are the actual attacks on our voting systems.

    • Vote counts sound fishy to me:


    • I call BS on your blanket statements that NOT ONE court found any fraud. It is impossible to recognize fraud when the agency in charge of voting is corrupt. Couple this with the process error of simply recounting fraudulent ballots along with the verifiable, legitimate votes and your blanket statement that no fraud existed and that Let’s Go Brandon was constitutionally elected are just nonsense. Chris Fuller, you are perpetuating the fraud.

    • Chris Fuller, your comment expressly says questioning or criticizing is an “attack on our electoral process and must stop.” Can you not see the tyranny revealed in your statement? Our constitutional republic is specifically designed to allow for such questioning and criticism… which should be addressed through a judiciary review process that is one of the cornerstones of our republic. We should always embrace, and never eschew, such repetitive testing of our system. Think about the slippery slope you are advocating; that is, we should limit the ability of citizens to criticize the actions of our government.? Really? Open your eyes my friend.

  2. One person, one vote.
    Prove you are eligible to vote, where you live (not all elections are for statewide offices), and go vote in person unless there is a compelling reason to request an absentee ballot. Being too lazy to go to the polls is not an excuse. There are early voting locations, and the polls are open for something like 14 hours. Unless you got roped into pulling a surprise double shift on election day, you do not have an excuse.
    We do not want more voter turn out.
    We want more informed voter turn out. And the people who currently cannot be bothered to vote at all, are clearly demonstrating they could not care. I would prefer they not vote, than having them vote for whatever candidate they last heard an ad for.

  3. My whole successful life, i cut through insanity and did what is correct.

    To vote: The State of Alaska must require Name, Age, years of residence, physical address, and then vote. BY BALLOT! or preferably, GO TO THE POLLS!!!!!!!!

    The last time i tried to get my ballot signed at the Eagle River post office, one of the clerks yelled to all of us in line “I WILL NOT SIGN A BALLOT!” I interpreted that to mean that it’s not in their job description to handle thousands of political ballots. THAT IS NOT THEIR JOB!! ( case in point, Juneau! )

    How the hell did someone in this state
    screw up qualifications for voting????

    Was it a dem who did this? God help us. The worst ideas prevail with them, including nose rings.

    Smart is as one does.

    I sure hate to be involved with stupid people, much less, stupid people who have any influence on my life!!!!!

  4. If the Election Integrity Bill prohibits the use of vote-tabulation machinery operating on proprietary software
    … and carries a presumptive 10-year jail term for ballot harvesting,
    Alaska voters might have a chance at free and fair elections.

  5. Voting in person in AK has never been a problem. We got results immediately. All this nonsense is instigated by democrats. They think they are so clever. If given the opportunity to be simple and straight-forward about something their approach is to put a little international, little twist to it. Sick of their unneeded, innovations.

  6. Completely transparent, meaning you can follow your ballot throughout the process. And instantly auditable. Everything else is whistling past the graveyard and all the democrat voters buried there. Cheers –

  7. Alaska’s 2020 election was not contentious, nor was it controversial. Lt Governor Meyer documented through audits that there was no widespread fraud in the 2020 Alaska elections. As a reward for Meyer’s diligent work the State Republican Party dumped him because he would not join in Trump’s big lie about a stolen election.

    • There are a great many facts which have not been brought to the courts and public attention. Getting to justice is not currently desired for some inexplicable reasons.

  8. We, here at home, are watching YouTube videos about Ranked Voting. Only large cities with populations exceeding the entire population of Alaska have chosen ranked voting because the pool of potential candidates is vast in those large cities. Ranked voting will not work in Alaska because most Senatorial Candidates in Alaska’s race are not qualified to be a Senator. Again I say, we do not have enough qualified candidates. God help us if we are forced to give any credence to a candidate of zero political experience. Our population simply does not have enough qualified candidates IF we are forced to vote for five. We have only two qualified candidates!

  9. Nice quote, Win – “President Thomas Jefferson noted that “we do not have a government by the majority. We have a government by the majority who participate.”

    It should be obvious that it only takes a handful of new participants to swing any “normal” election. Hence the intense focus on voter registration, voter ID, ballot harvesting, etc.

    Clearly, one party in our state is currently much better at registering new voters and then getting them out to vote (and harvesting their ballots). Usually they are most effective in local elections with the usually dismal turnouts. That explains our lop-sided councils, assemblies, and school boards. Once ensconced they can direct funding toward even more government sanctioned “community organizing” to ensure their own reelections. This continues until the other party gets its act together and figures out how to motivate its own voters.

    Maybe Bronson’s election win shows that the other party may be beginning to take this seriously.

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