Clerk makes case for election by mail

    CBJ Clerk Beth McEwen.

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Assembly Human Resources Committee weighed the pros and cons of holding the 2020 municipal elections by mail.

    Clerk Beth McEwen said COVID-19 would create potential exposures to voters and staff.

    She noted 60% of the election staff is over 60 years old.  Just under half of the workers are over 70.

    There would also be a reduction in polling places available this fall.  Bartlett Regional Hospital would not be available.  Some churches have indicated they do not want to provide the space this year.

    McEwen said the election would go through the City of Anchorage.  She assured the members that there would be no voter fraud and no election hacking.

    The price of doing the election in normal fashion is $98,500.  The vote by mail process would cost $174,000. 

    Anchorage Clerk Barbara Jones said they spent some marketing dollars to promote the vote by mail  They also did a lot of social media promotion.  She said the costs per ballot was less with the vote by mail.

    City Manager Rorie Watt said the CBJ could purchase the voting equipment by using CARES Act funding.

    Anchorage officials said the use of vote by mail has increased voter turnout.

    The CBJ had been borrowing election equipment from the Alaska Division of Elections since 1998.  The state purchased new equipment for the first time in 22 years this year.  The Division of Elections agreed to allow the CBJ to borrow the equipment again in 2021. 

    At the same time, the state gave the CBJ the Accu-vote Optical Scan units to use in this year's election. 

    The committee agreed to forward the vote by mail proposal to the full assembly.

    The state decided to hold the vote in-person process for the August primary last week.

    The CBJ Municipal Election is scheduled for October 6.

    All ballots submitted or postmarked by October 6 would be counted.

    Results would be available on Friday, October 9.


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