The Juneau Assembly unanimously voted to change its elections code by removing the requirement that mail-in ballots include a witness verification signature to ensure the legal identity of absentee voters.

No one from the public testified on the measure prior to the June 14 vote, and there was no discussion or debate on the matter. City Manager Rorie Watt spoke briefly on the ordinance, which amends election code to require one of three identifiers for a voter – drivers license number, date of birth, last four digits of social security number, but not a witness verification.

Watt asserted that using one of the three above identifiers is more reliable than having a witness sign a legal oath that the absentee voter is who he or she claims to be.

Witness verification requirements, like what the State of Alaska has in place for statewide elections, are used in many local and state elections across the nation. Supporters of this practice maintain that it provides another layer of protection in ensuring the integrity of election by holding the witnesses legally responsible for accurately verifying the identity of the mail-in voter. Opponents claim that it complicates the election process for those who live alone and may have a difficult time finding anyone who can verify their identity.

In a separate vote, the assembly unanimously voted to extend – until July 31 – its mandatory mask requirement for residents ages two years and older who cannot or will not submit to receiving the experimental COVID-19 injection.

With few exceptions, the unvaccinated who violate the mandate are subject $25 fines for each infraction. In addition to a civil fine those who refuse to comply with the law may also face the revocation of certificate of occupancy, civil lawsuits and denial of services. Those deemed vaccinated, however, are free to dispense of facemasks.

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Juneau dumps witness verification for absentee voters, extends mask mandate for unvaxxed

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.