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    All but one voter assistant center closed for Anchorage election

    AlaskaWatchman.com

    Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, the Municipality of Anchorage has chosen to close five of six Accessible Vote Centers, which were slated to open on March 30 to assist residents with the current city-wide election. Under normal circumstances, these centers are locations around town where voters can turn in or replace damaged ballots and receive voting assistance.

    In closing the centers, Municipal Clerk Barbara Jones issued a March 23 advisory encouraging voters to cast their mail-in ballots via mail or through one of the 18 drop boxes located throughout the city (view map of locations here).

    The following vote centers will remain closed.

    • Muldoon Mall
    • O’Malley’s on the Green
    • MOA Election Center
    • Loussac Library
    • Eagle River Town Center

    The one vote center slated to open on March 30 is the City Hall center, but this may change as response to the coronavirus develops. Voters are encouraged to vote from home as soon as possible.

    Those who have questions, need a replacement ballot, or didn’t receive a ballot can call the Voter Hotline at 243-8683. The Call Center Team is standing by Monday-Friday, from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and can provide options for voters that limit health risks for voters and election workers.

    Jones indicated the decision was “difficult but necessary considering that over 75% of the Accessible Vote Center Election Workers, with hundreds of years of election experience, have declined to work in the 2020 Election because they are at higher risk for COVID-19.”

    Jones expressed concern that Accessible Vote Centers “have in the past been locations where lines and crowds have formed, when guidance and orders from municipal, state, and federal officials require social distancing and avoiding crowds.”

    She added that the vote-by-mail system is better suited to “protecting the public health during this pandemic than a poll-based election.”

    Approximately 215,000 ballot packages were mailed to qualified Anchorage voters on March 17 and should arrive by Tuesday, March 24. Voters have until April 7 to return their marked ballots, but in light of the unfolding coronavirus situation residents are being asked to return ballots as soon as possible.

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    Joel Davidson
    Joel Davidson
    Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 20 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.

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