Anchorage paid slightly more than $1 million to hold the city’s first-ever vote-by-mail election this spring, roughly twice the cost of previous poll-based elections, according to data released by election officials Friday. Elections officials said they weren’t surprised by the higher price tag for the election, an experiment that recorded the highest number of voters in an April city election in city history. But the bigger bill likely won’t go away anytime soon, officials said.”It looks like going forward we will probably have higher election costs doing vote-by-mail than we did the poll-based election,” said Assemblyman Pete Petersen, who chairs the Assembly’s ethics and elections committee.
To prepare for the switch, the city also spent $1.2 million on equipment and other one-time capital investments, like a high-tech mail sorter and tenant upgrades to a new election headquarters on Ship Creek Avenue.
Anchorage officials began exploring the shift to vote-by-mail during the administration of Mayor Dan Sullivan. The Assembly first formally endorsed the move in late 2015.
Much of the rationale centered on boosting turnout, though some officials pitched it as a way to cut costs.