Alaska Voters

After hearing nearly two hours of public testimony on June 2, the Mat-Su Assembly ultimately rejected a proposal to implement a mail-in voting program for its 2020 elections.

Public comment was overwhelmingly opposed to a resolution that would have shuttered most polling stations while mailing out tens of thousands of ballots to registered voters.

Assembly Member Tim Hale amended the original resolution in order to keep the polls open in the current manner. He also added wording to promote an educational campaign letting voters know how to request traditional absentee ballots if they feel uncomfortable going to the polls due to COVID-19. Hale’s plan calls for poll workers to implement safety guidelines and sanitation during the election.

Initially Assembly Members Dan Mayfield and Tam Boeve argued for eliminating most polling places in favor of a mostly mail-in voting system. After Hale’s resolution passed, however, they voted with the majority to approve Hale’s amended resolution, which passed 5-2 with Assembly Members Stephanie Nowers, Ted Leonard and Tim Hale also in support. Jesse Sumner, who argued strongly against a switch to mail-in voting, opposed Hale’s amended resolution, as did George Mckee.

“It is very important that people have faith in their election process,” Assembly Member Sumner said.

Most of the public comments cautioned the Assembly against widespread mail-in voting, which has a history of fraud and abuse.

Assembly Member Sumner echoed these sentiments, and said the current absentee system is sufficient for those who don’t want to vote in person.

“Part of the reason why we have run our elections system the way we have for the past 228 plus years is because while there is no perfect system of voting. A system where you go to your precinct, you cast a ballot, that ballot is counted there at the precinct is the most secure way to vote,” Sumner said. “It is very important that people have faith in their election process.”

In order to successfully carry out a traditional vote, the Mat-Su Borough will need additional poll workers this year. Borough Clerk Lonnie McKechnie said volunteers are typically older and given concerns about COVID-19 she is not sure how many past volunteers will step up this year.

Those interested in applying to serve as election workers for the upcoming election, can print out the application here. Applications are also available by contacting the Borough Clerk’s Office at 861-8683. Volunteers must be registered voters of the borough. Training and compensation are provided.

Click here to support the Alaska Watchman.

Mat-Su nixes problematic mail-in voting plan

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.