On Oct. 4, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly will hold a public hearing to decide on whether to ban voting machines and mandate hand count tabulation of all borough elections.

Introduced on Sept. 27, the ordinance requires a hand count of all ballots at the precinct level on election night. It also stipulates that poll watchers must be allowed to observe the tabulation process.

While counting absentee and questioned ballots cannot occur on election night due to the fact that these ballots are often not returned by election day, the ordinance mandates that all these ballots must ultimately be hand counted with observers allowed to watch.

If approved, the changes would take effect after the Nov. 8 election in order to avoid a rush of potential last-minute complications in the lead up to election day.

For voters with disabilities, or those who cannot read or write, the ordinance allows for voting equipment to help these residents cast their ballot. All other ballots, however, must be hand tabulated.

The ordinance also states that poll watchers must be able to “clearly see and hear all activities taken to hand count the ballots.” This includes the ability to hear discussions among counting officials regarding how a vote should count. Additionally, the ordinance lets poll watchers observe all early vote count locations.

If passed, all references to “machines, tapes and memory cards” will be removed from borough code, as they will become obsolete terms.


— Click here to read a detailed explanation of the key changes the ordinance would bring about.

— Click here to read the proposed ordinance.

— Click here to contact members of the Mat-Su Borough Assembly.

— Click here for information on how to testify at the Oct. 4 meeting.

Click here to support Alaska Watchman reporting.

Mat-Su looks to ban vote machines, mandate hand counts, empower poll watchers

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.