The state of Alaska is exploring options for conducting elections after 2018, as it is faced with an aging voting system and financial pressures amid an ongoing state budget deficit. A bipartisan working group established by Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott is examining the issue. Josie Bahnke, director of the state Division of Elections, said one option that has gotten attention is a hybrid system would include allowing for early, in-person voting and voting by mail. But she said discussions are preliminary and more research must be done to see if this approach would work in Alaska, a vast state with far-flung communities. In certain parts of Alaska, the state must provide language assistance, including for a number of Alaska Native languages and dialects.
… The Division of Elections, in a report earlier this year, said its current ballot tabulation system, purchased in 1998, still works and accurately counts ballots but has had problems.
Some equipment failed and had to be replaced during last year’s elections. Ballots were put into emergency bins and voting was uninterrupted but such issues can affect voter confidence, the report states.
The system was bought with a 20-year life expectancy, and it’s becoming more difficult to find parts, Bahnke said, noting that it could cost $6.7 million for a replacement. She said it will still be used for next year’s elections.