All three parties filed briefs and objections last Friday to a ruling on the lawsuit holding up Alaska’s House District 1 election. Two months after election day, the Alaska Supreme Court is scheduled to hear each party argue their points at an oral hearing this Friday morning, Jan. 4. In the meantime, the state House is at a standstill, unable to elect a speaker until a majority is decided. The careful, persnickety points each party argues can be fascinating, or frustrating. Half the voters in this downtown Fairbanks district voted for each side. The race was certified as a tie between Democrat Kathryn Dodge and Republican Bart LeBon, until the Nov. 30 recount put LeBon one vote ahead.Full Article: Fairbanks election lawsuit goes before Supreme Court | Alaska Public Media.
Articles about voting issues in Alaska.
Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer said Monday that he wants an audit of Alaska’s election system following irregularities in the last two primaries. Meyer, a Republican, said the more he’s learning about the Division of Elections, the more he thinks it has done a “pretty good job.” He noted the division found irregularities in a state House primary this year, which the division previously said resulted in 26 suspect ballots being sent to the Department of Law for further review. In that race, the division said it had received seven absentee ballot applications for people that records indicated were dead. The division said it did not send ballots to those requestors. But Meyer said those irregularities and actions by some election workers in a 2016 House primary raised concerns. Questions arose in 2016 around election worker training in certain rural precincts.Full Article: Alaska lieutenant governor wants audit of election system - Alton Telegraph.
The Democrat who lost a recount by one vote in a contested Alaska House race said Wednesday she will challenge the results. Kathryn Dodge said she disagreed with decisions the Division of Elections made on some ballots and will file required paperwork with the Alaska Supreme Court. A recount, held Friday in the Fairbanks race, showed Republican Bart LeBon winning by one vote. During the recount, Dodge picked up another vote, while LeBon picked up two. “This race has gone back and forth, favoring me and my opponent at one time or another during a lengthy process,” Dodge said in a statement. “I believe that it is important to follow the process through so that absolutely no doubt remains about this incredibly close result.”Full Article: Democrat who lost Alaska House race recount plans appeal | Peninsula Clarion.
It’s a sign that every vote does count. A single mystery ballot found on a precinct table on Election Day but not counted then could decide a tied Alaska state House race and thwart Republican efforts to control the chamber and all of state government. The ballot arrived in Juneau last Friday in a secrecy sleeve in a bin with other ballot materials. Officials were investigating its origins and handling before deciding whether to tally it. “People kept calling it close,” Democrat candidate Kathryn Dodge said of the race for the House seat in Fairbanks. “I just didn’t know it was going to be squeaky.” A recount is scheduled for Friday after the race between Dodge and Republican Bart LeBon was previously certified as a tie, at 2,661 votes apiece. The uncounted ballot appears to be marked for Dodge.Full Article: Mystery ballot could sway control of Alaska state government | The Seattle Times.
A divided federal appeals court panel ruled Tuesday that Alaska’s cap on total contributions that candidates can receive from nonresidents is unconstitutional. However, the three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld other campaign contribution limits that it said were tailored to prevent corruption or the appearance of corruption. The case brought by three individuals and an Alaska Republican Party district challenged elements of state campaign finance law. An attorney for the plaintiffs did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth, in a statement, expressed disappointment that the court struck down limits on nonresident contributions but said she was pleased with the rest of the ruling. Her agency said it was reviewing the decision and evaluating next steps.Full Article: Appeals court ruling mixed on Alaska campaign finance laws.
A coin toss could determine who controls the Alaska House. After the latest count, Republican Bart LeBon and Democrat Kathryn Dodge are tied in the race for the state house seat that represents downtown Fairbanks. There are a couple of steps that have to happen before the race could come down to a coin toss. On Friday, election workers will audit the remaining absentee ballots. If the vote count is still tied after that, then there will be a recount. And if the recount doesn’t change the results, state law mandates that the winner is determined “by lot.” That could take the form of a coin toss or another method of determining a winner by chance.Full Article: Coin toss could determine control of Alaska House | Alaska Public Media.
Some election results from the Alaska primary could be delayed after more than 100,000 voters were given a month to clear up discrepancies with their addresses on voting records. Election officials have not given an exact count of how many did so, but those who didn’t may have to vote a questioned ballot in Tuesday’s primary election. That creates the potential for a delay in election results, especially in tight races, since election officials do not begin counting questioned ballots until a week after the election. “I think the problem is, we don’t know the breadth of the issue right now, so until we know the breadth of the issue, I don’t know that we know the questions to ask,” Stacey Stone, an attorney for the Alaska Republican Party, told The Associated Press. Josie Bahnke, the elections director, was too busy with the election to talk to a reporter, her spokeswoman said.Full Article: APNewsBreak: Voter log changes could delay Alaska results - StarTribune.com.
Early voting for the state’s primary elections starts Monday. However, there is a slight change to the process this year due to the current threat of foreign cyber attacks. The Alaska Division of Elections (DOE) said it is suspending the return of ballots online until security advancements can be made to the state voting system. “We want our voters to feel confident in our elections system and that their votes are secure, which is why we are taking proactive steps to improve how we safeguard their ballots as we head into this year’s elections,” said State Elections Director Josie Bahnke.Full Article: Threat of cyber attack prompts change in Alaska primary - KTVA 11 - The Voice of Alaska.
The Alaska Division of Elections is in the middle of preparations for this fall’s statewide primary and general elections, but in a meeting Wednesday, the division showed it also has its eyes on 2020. In a meeting of the statewide election policy task force, division officials said they are preparing to acquire new voting equipment even as they consider whether the state should change the way it conducts elections. “It’s kind of two separate projects. It’s equipment replacement and it’s expanding options for ballot access in the future,” Josie Bahnke, the division’s director, said by phone after the meeting. Nothing will change before this year’s Aug. 21 primary or the Nov. 6 general election. Voters will still go to polling stations across the state, they’ll still pick up pens, and they’ll still fill in ovals on paper ballots, then feed those ballots into 20-year-old scanners.Full Article: Prepping for 2018 election, state looks at 2020 | Juneau Empire - Alaska's Capital City Online Newspaper.
Officials with the state and with Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage, hope to avoid any confusion about voting in this year’s primary and general elections. Anchorage has moved to a vote-by-mail system for its local elections. However, the state has not gone that route and will conduct the Aug. 21 primary and Nov. 6 general elections as normal. That typically means voting in person. However, a voter also can request an absentee ballot, which can be returned in the mail — one of the options the state offers for casting ballots. Samantha Miller, communications manager for the state Division of Elections, said officials with the division and municipality planned to meet Monday to discuss the upcoming elections.Full Article: Alaska officials hope to avoid confusion over voting | Myrtle Beach Sun News.
The Anchorage League of Women Voters has sent a resolution to the State of Alaska asking it to adopt the mail-in ballot for the General Election. It’s not clear from the resolution if the League wants only Anchorage to be able to conduct the General Election with a mail-in ballot, or if the League expects the entire state to “go postal” in November. The resolution sent to the Division of Elections leaves that open to interpretation and seems to suggest a hybrid of regular and mail-in voting for areas outside of Anchorage. But Anchorage would be all mail-in, as it did in the Municipal Election in April. The wording “supports the State of Alaska utilizing the Municipality of Anchorage new vote-by-mail system beginning with the State of Alaska elections in 2018;” It’s the first public push from mail-in ballot proponents to get the entire state on the system.Full Article: League of Women Voters asks state to adopt mail-in ballot - Must Read Alaska.
As the Alaska Legislature held a Thursday hearing examining the security state’s election system, the Alaska Division of Elections responded to claims that a hacker penetrated its systems on Election Day 2016. Earlier this week, the Anchorage Daily News published details of a previously undisclosed penetration of the division’s computer systems. The division has previously said Alaska was among the 21 states identified by the Department of Homeland Security as targets of Russian vulnerability scans, but it had not discussed an event on the morning of Election Day itself. In that event, exposed by emails first obtained by the ADN (and subsequently obtained by the Associated Press and the Empire), a hacker identified on Twitter as @cyberzeist published pictures of the administrative tools the division uses to share election results with the public.Full Article: Alaska election officials respond to revealed hack attempt | Juneau Empire - Alaska's Capital City Online Newspaper.
It wasn’t until Anchorage Daily News reporter Nat Herz caught wind of irregularities in the 2016 General Election that the Division of Elections admitted its computers had been hacked not once, but twice. The second attack was at 5:37 am on Election Day, 2016. In what could be viewed as a cover-up by the Division of Elections, Election Division Director Josie Bahnke said she didn’t disclose it because the attack had no effect on the outcome of the elections. Emails uncovered by Herz support that assertion but do not explain why no report was made to the public in the year and a half that followed, especially after the September, 2017 notification of Russian intrusion into Alaska’s Election Division data, which had also occurred in 2016.Full Article: Elections Division kept hacking attack secret - Must Read Alaska.
Hackers reportedly breached election systems in a third state, in addition to the already disclosed incidents involving Arizona and Illinois, during the 2016 campaign cycle. On Election Day 2016, a hacker successfully penetrated a server hosting Alaska’s main election website, the Anchorage Daily News reported on Monday night, citing documents obtained through a public records request. The breach is not connected to the previously reported hacking attempt made by Russia-linked hackers to access Alaska’s primary voter registration database. Alaska was one of 21 states that were previously informed by the Department of Homeland Security of similar Russian probing activity on their election systems. Security experts told ADN that, although the newly reported incident was a successful intrusion, the Alaska Division of Elections’ security measures appear to have prevented the attackers from changing content on the server.Full Article: Alaska election website was hacked on Election Day in 2016: report.
A hacker gained unauthorized access in 2016 to the server that hosts Alaska’s public elections website, according to documents released by Gov. Bill Walker’s administration. The documents, obtained by the Anchorage Daily News through a public records request, outline an incident that drew the attention of federal law enforcement but had not been publicly revealed by Alaska election officials. The documents show that Alaska’s elections, like other states’ around the country, face threats from hackers seeking to undermine American democratic institutions. But technology experts both inside and outside state government said that no damage was done — and that the attack actually highlights the resilience of Alaska’s multi-layered cyber-defenses.Full Article: Hackers broke partway into Alaska’s election system in 2016. Officials say no damage was done. - Anchorage Daily News.
Alaska is looking into conducting more of its elections by mail, though it may not completely convert right away. Interest at the state and local government levels increased after the Municipality of Anchorage saw a massive jump in its voter turnout during its April 3 election, which was conducted entirely by mail. However, the cost also reportedly increased, in part due to the printing and mailing of ballots. The Alaska Division of Elections and the Election Policy Work Group plan to meet May 8 and 9 in Anchorage to discuss four possible new vendors for the state’s ballot systems, all of which would involve a hybrid vote-by-mail system, according to a press release issued Thursday.Full Article: Alaska considers measures to switch to mail voting | Peninsula Clarion.
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.Full Article: Election cost doubles as Anchorage turns to vote by mail - Anchorage Daily News.
Alaska: After Anchorage success, state considers whether Alaska is ready for elections by mail | Juneau Empire
By the numbers alone, Anchorage’s first election held by mail has been a smashing success. Election Day was Tuesday, and almost 80,000 votes have already been received by elections officials, setting a record for the most ever cast in an Anchorage muncipal election. State elections officials have already been asking the obvious question: If it worked for Anchorage, could it work for the rest of the state? “I think it very well might,” said Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak and a member of the state’s elections policy task force. “If half of our population is voting by mail and it’s a good experience, why wouldn’t the rest of the state want to do that?”Full Article: After Anchorage success, state considers whether Alaska is ready for elections by mail | Juneau Empire - Alaska's Capital City Online Newspaper.
Alaska elections officials are struggling to put methods in place to translate the state’s election ballot into an array of diverse Alaska Native languages. The effort to respond to a couple of court settlements has already resulted in materials in seven different Yup’ik dialects and some Athabascan Gwich’in languages. The state, expanding its effort beyond the court order, now includes a couple of Inupiaq languages. The effort is the subject of a conference that is going on this week at the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage. The law requires written ballot materials in minority languages, but one of the big issues is that many Alaska Native speakers never learned to read their Native language.Full Article: State elections division holds Alaska Native language summit.
The Alaska Division of Elections has announced it will suspend a little-used absentee voting program in an effort to improve the security of the state’s elections. In a note released last week, the division said it had received a “B” grade for election security in a recent study conducted by the Center for American Progress, a progressive public policy group. “B” was the highest grade awarded to any state in the country; 11 states received the ranking, the report indicated. Alaska’s report drew attention to the way the state handles absentee ballots submitted from overseas.Full Article: To boost election security, Alaska suspends electronic absentee program | Juneau Empire - Alaska's Capital City Online Newspaper.