CBJ may bring back witness signature for election ballots as the state employs

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The City and Borough of Juneau experienced a problem during its second by mail election last fall when over 300 ballots were not postmarked by the U. S. Postal Service and thus were not counted.

    We asked Alaska Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumai if they've had similar troubles with absentee ballots that are mailed by voters.   She said there have been occasions when ballots have been received with no postmark.  She explains that state ballots also require that the signature of the witness and date and location of witnessing be put on the voter's certificate of the ballot. "So in that situation for the state if a ballot was to come back without a postmark we would look at the date of the witness signature and if it was on or before election day we would accept that ballot," she said.

    In the past Fenumai said they have encouraged voters to date their signature just in case the postmark wasn't there.  So if it came in on or before election day they were still able to count the ballot.

    We contacted City and Borough of Juneau Clerk Beth McEwen if they are looking at instituting a similar system?  She called it a great question and one she is discussing with the CBJ attorney to try to find solutions to address that issue.

    "It isn't the voter's fault the post office doesn't put a postmark on their return ballot envelope so we are looking at various different options available to us to be able to have something."

    She explained that they do have a signature cure letter so that if somebody's signature doesn't match they send them a follow-up letter after their ballot is received or if they were lacking a signature or personal identifier.  "We're looking at having possibly a cure letter when it comes to having a lack of a postmark, so we're looking at what those options look like, and when we've determined what they are we will be proposing those to the Assembly with new legislation."

    One option is to redesign the ballot return envelope that allows the voter to include the date.  McEwen said they'll need to figure out how that would work including whether they would need to resurrect the requirement for a witness signature.



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