Anchorage School Board Candidate Mark Anthony Cox sent a photo to the Alaska Watchman on March 21 showing a municipal mail-in ballot lying in the trash can at the city’s southside U.S. Post Office (see photo to the right).
Another resident, Dewey Wells, sent the Watchman photos of his ballot. Received on March 20, it is the wrong ballot for the city district he lives in. According to voter registration records, Wells resides in District 2 and should be voting for candidates in that district, but his ballot is for District 3 candidates.
Anchorage resident Jolene Reece notified the Watchman on March 21 that she knows of at least two ballots delivered near her residence to an unlocked mailbox in a small condo complex in Midtown Anchorage.
“The box has a marked ‘vacant’ on the inside for the postal worker, yet these were still left in an unsecure box,” Reece noted. “The individuals no longer live there and moved out three months ago. These ballots are ripe for theft as the box is unsecured.”
In 2018, Anchorage moved to a mail-in only election system, which means all qualified registered voters have ballots automatically sent to their address, even if they have moved or died. This year, the city mailed out 210,000 ballots, most of which are arriving this week.
Mail-in ballots are the type most vulnerable to being altered, stolen, forged or thrown into non-secure areas like public garbage cans and dumpsters.
According to the city’s election website, residents should mark “Return to sender” on all ballots which are sent to someone who no longer lives at that address. This is the first step in updating the city’s voter rolls. While these ballots may be discarded or torn up, that does not help the city update its voter list, and the former residents will continue to have ballots mailed to the incorrect address.
Likewise, the city website indicates that voters who lose or never receive their ballot packages in the mail should call the Voter Hotline (907-243-8683) to request a replacement ballot package as soon as possible. Replacement ballot packages may not be mailed out less than seven days before election day. Voters can also visit an Anchorage Vote Center to vote in person, but they must have proper identification. All ballots must have a return postmark date of April 5.
If you see ballots discarded, left in unsecured locations, mishandled or transported improperly, please let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are attempting to document these cases with the goal of helping city officials – both elected and appointed – realize the many problems associated with mail-in voting, and to ensure that Anchorage’s elections are conducted with integrity and security moving forward.