Alaskan Voting Studies Point to Changes needing Education First

    Juneau, AK (KINY) - Studies are being done to address Alaska's aging voting system.

    The State of Alaska's Division of Elections (DOE) and members of the Election Policy Work Group (EPWG) have been studying the issue over the past year. Three research efforts were done in Alaska, which were presented during a teleconference.

    One survey was able to pull in the thoughts of over 400 people in three regions in Southwest Alaska. The presenter of this data said that there was some concern on the ballots only being in English, specifically they worried about the older members of their community.

    “Only 10% of people said that voting was difficult for themselves, because the ballot was in English, but they felt it was difficult for 46% of other people in their community to vote, because the ballot was in English. Consistently people made comments about how difficult it was for elders; they were much more concerned about the elders getting their vote in than they were themselves.”

    While most of those surveyed had only voted in a traditional polling system, there was interest after other methods were explained.

    “Even though people have very little experience with voting in different ways, once they heard the description of what the three different ways might be, they were much were interested and open-minded about this other way of voting where they could receive it by mail and then have a voting center or different options for returning the ballot.”

    A much smaller sampling out of Bethel included a high school group that are studying government. Jana Peirce of Information Insights talked about their findings.

    “Many cited a desire to retain the social aspect and the civic focus of going to the polls on Election Day and this was something that came up in both of the adult groups while still providing the option and flexibility of voting by mail, especially for those who can't get to the polls easily on Election Day on a specific day.”

    A question was brought up about electronic options where an online connection could be used. Carol Thompson of the DOE explained the methods they are able to do.

    “In regards to the online delivery system that's in place with a division, we will allow online delivery of the ballot to the voter via a URL that they can go in and login to and receive their ballot. However, we now require that the ballot be returned either by mail or by fax.”

    In both online and mail in options, security was a concern among those that were surveyed.

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