Thanks to an ordinance passed last year, which eliminated all voting machines from all Mat-Su Borough local elections, the upcoming election will be hand-counted only.
While opponents of hand-count-only elections often claim that they require too many volunteers to pull off, Mat-Su residents have proven more than willing to step up as poll workers, precinct chairmen, ballot counters and canvass board members.
“We are good to go at this point,” a pleased borough staffer noted on Oct. 19. “We are all filled up at this point, and we have a few extras on call for standby.”
The sheer number of volunteers who came forward was a pleasant surprise, given challenges in past years to fill all roles.
The Nov. 7 election will be the first under the new rules prohibiting machine ballot counters. The law 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. Additionally, all absentee and questioned ballots must be hand counted with observers allowed to watch.
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Under the new policy, poll watchers must also 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.
Election day is Nov. 7, but voters may choose to vote early – starting Oct. 23 – at one of the following early/absentee in-person voting locations.
— MAT-SU DIVISION OF ELECTIONS (1700 E. Bogard Road, Building B, Suite 102, Wasilla) – This is open from Oct. 23 to Nov. 6, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will also be open on two Saturdays, Oct. 28 and Nov. 4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All ballot types are available at this location.
— MAT-SU BOROUGH ADMINISTRATION BUILDING (350 E. Dahlia Avenue, Palmer) – This is open from Oct. 23 to Nov. 6, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. All ballot types are available at this location.
— ABSENTEE IN-PERSON VOTING LOCATIONS (Houston City Hall and the Talkeetna and Trapper Creek Libraries) – These locations are open from Oct. 23 through Nov. 6 during normal business hours.
For more information about the upcoming election, click here.