Alaska: U.S. Justice Department finds state discriminates against disabled voters | Iris Samuels/Anchorage Daily News

The Alaska Division of Elections has violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by making voting inaccessible to disabled Alaskans, the U.S. Department of Justice found in a recent investigation. The DOJ found that “Alaska discriminates on the basis of disability” in an investigation initiated in response to complaints that alleged that “accessible voting machines that would allow persons with disabilities to vote privately and independently, were either unavailable at voting sites, or if available, they did not work.” The investigation examined statewide elections held in 2022 and 2023. The investigation detailed several problems that hinder disabled voters’ ability to participate in elections. For state and federal elections, the state did not provide accessible voting machines during early voting and on Election Day, despite claiming that it provides such machines. In some locations where the machines were present, they were not operational, the investigation found. In at least one polling place, the machine was “unassembled in its shipping box.” In other locations, poll workers reported that they “could not operate” the accessible machines. Read Article

Alaska lawmakers advance bipartisan election bill to implement ballot curing, signature verification | Iris Samuels and Sean Maguire/Anchorage Daily News

A bill to update Alaska’s election laws passed out of the Senate State Affairs Committee on Tuesday, part of a bipartisan effort to revive a set of proposals that failed during last year’s legislative session. The bill, which heads next to the Senate Finance Committee, is a compromise that largely avoids more controversial changes to how the state’s elections are run. It would establish a ballot curing process, signature verification, ballot tracking and requirements to more regularly update voter rolls, among other elements. It does not include any reforms to how campaigns are financed, nor does it alter the state’s ranked-choice voting system. The provisions — salvaged from an unsuccessful 2022 election bill — would allow voters to correct errors on their ballots once they are submitted, allow election workers to more reliably verify the identity of voters, and allow voters to track their by-mail ballots after they are submitted. Sen. Scott Kawasaki, a Fairbanks Democrat who chairs the State Affairs Committee, said the bill is based on his collaboration with Sen. Mike Shower, a Wasilla Republican who chaired the committee last year.

Full Article: Lawmakers advance bipartisan election bill to implement ballot curing, signature verification

Alaska: Mat-Su assembly bans voting machines for borough elections starting next year | Sean Maguire/Anchorage Daily News

In what is apparently a first for Alaska, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly passed an ordinance this week that will prohibit the use of voting tabulation machines for borough elections, starting next year. The new Mat-Su ordinance, approved Tuesday night, caps off a months-long effort from a group of residents determined to ban the use of voting machines spurred on by false claims of election fraud. Last month, the Assembly unanimously voted to use a hand-count to verify the results of the Nov. 8 borough election, but voting machines will still be used. Borough officials determined that it would be a “great risk” to stop using machines and mandate hand-counting for this year’s borough election because there would be inadequate time “to properly prepare for a change of this magnitude,” according to a memo filed with the legislation. Instead, those changes are set to be in place for next November’s municipal election. The new ordinance will require hand counting of ballots on election night at each of the borough’s 41 precincts, with election workers calling results in, instead of counting taking place at the borough office in Palmer. Some assembly members raised concerns that transporting ballots before they are counted could increase the risk of vote tampering and fraud. No other boroughs appear to have taken similar steps, according to the Alaska Municipal League and the Mat-Su borough clerk.

Full Article: Mat-Su assembly bans voting machines for borough elections starting next year

Alaska rejected more than 7,500 ballots in the US House special primary. Here’s why. | Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media

More than 7,500 ballots were rejected in the special primary election to fill the remainder of the late Congressman Don Young’s term, according to the final vote tally. That’s a statewide rejection rate of 4.55%, double the rejection rate from the 2020 primary. The final ballot rejection rate in rural Alaska communities was even higher, with about 1 in 8 ballots not being counted. The primary was Alaska’s first statewide by-mail election. According to a report from the Division of Elections, the biggest reason for rejections was a lack of a witness signature, accounting for more than a third of rejected ballots. Roughly 25% of ballots were rejected because they were postmarked or handed in after the deadline, while a fifth weren’t counted because the ballot didn’t have a numerical identifier, like a driver’s license number or the last four digits of a voter’s social security number. State Division of Elections spokeswoman Tiffany Montemayor says while officials are concerned any time they have to reject a ballot, they’re bound by state law. “If there is not a voter signature, a voter identifier, a witness signature and a postmark on or before Election Day the ballot cannot count,” Montemayor said. “These provisions have been in place for decades.” Generally, rural Alaska — communities off the road system with populations that tend to be majority Alaska Native — had the highest rejection rates at around 13.74%. More than half of those rejections were because of a lack of witness signature.

Full Article: Alaska rejected more than 7,500 ballots in the US House special primary. Here’s why. – Alaska Public Media

Alaska Supreme Court reverses lower court decision, allowing certification of U.S. House special primary results | Iris Samuels/Anchorage Daily News

The Alaska Supreme Court on Saturday reversed a lower court ruling that would have delayed the certification of U.S. House primary election results until visually impaired voters were given “a full and fair opportunity to vote independently, secretly and privately.” The state appealed the Superior Court’s decision to the Alaska Supreme Court soon after the lower court ruled in favor of a request from the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights to ensure visually impaired voters are given adequate voting access. “Where the Division has — and continues — to discriminate and effectively disenfranchise a population of voters on the basis of their disability, the law requires that it must be ordered to cease such a practice immediately, without regard to the ‘cascading’ consequences,” attorneys for the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights wrote in their filing to the Supreme Court. The commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Supreme Court decision. Attorneys for the state argued that that delaying the certification of election results would have far-reaching consequences on the election. It would require delaying the special general election, currently scheduled on Aug. 16, to a later date, meaning Alaska’s lone U.S. House seat would remain vacant for a longer period. It would also force that election — the state’s first under ranked choice voting — to be held entirely by mail.

Full Article: Alaska Supreme Court reverses lower court decision, allowing certification of U.S. House special primary results

Alaska commission asks court to stop certification of U.S. House primary election, alleging failure to accommodate visually impaired voters | Iris Samuels/Anchorage Daily News

The Alaska State Commission for Human Rights is suing the lieutenant governor and the Division of Elections over what it says is a lack of sufficient accommodations for visually impaired voters in the U.S. House primary race — the state’s first all-mail election. In a complaint filed Wednesday in state Superior Court in Anchorage, plaintiff Robert Corbisier, executive director of the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights, alleges that the ballots that were mailed to every registered voter in the state for the special primary election “do not provide an opportunity to visually impaired voters to vote privately, secretly and independently.” The lawsuit names Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer — who oversees elections in Alaska — and Division of Elections director Gail Fenumiai as defendants. Meyer’s office declined to comment on the lawsuit. The Division of Elections deferred comment to the Department of Law. With only three days to go until the Saturday voting deadline, the commission is asking for the certification of election results to be delayed until “visually impaired Alaska voters are given full and fair opportunity” to vote. On Wednesday, Anchorage Superior Court Judge Una Gandbhir granted a motion for expedited consideration of the request. A hearing hadn’t been scheduled as of late Wednesday, according to online court system records.

Full Article: Alaska commission asks court to stop certification of U.S. House primary election, alleging failure to accommodate visually impaired voters

Alaska Judge orders delay in certification of US House special primary; state plans appeal | Iris Samuels, Anchorage Daily News

An Alaska state judge ruled Friday that the results of the special U.S. House primary election could not be certified until visually impaired voters are given “a full and fair opportunity to vote independently, secretly and privately.” The state immediately said it was planning an appeal to the Alaska Supreme Court. The ruling, from Anchorage Superior Court Judge Judge Una Gandbhir, came after arguments earlier in the day in a lawsuit filed earlier this week by the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights against the Alaska Division of Election and Lt. Gov. Keven Meyer, who oversees the division. The commission asserted that the primary, which is the state’s first all-mail election, does not provide visually impaired voters in the state adequate voting access. The order comes just a day before the Saturday voting deadline. It could upend a plan to hold the special general election on Aug. 16 and force an all-mail general election, according to the Division of Elections. The ramifications of the court decision on the ongoing election were not immediately clear. “No court should consider lightly an injunction that potentially upends an ongoing election, but neither can the Court allow flawed state procedures to disenfranchise a group of Alaskans who already face tremendous barriers in exercising a fundamental right,” Gandbhir wrote in her decision to grant the preliminary injunction. The decision does not specify what giving visually impaired voters “a full and fair” opportunity to vote would entail, but Gandbhir wrote she “urges the parties to work together expeditiously to find a timely, appropriate remedy.”

Full Article: Judge orders delay in certification of Alaska’s US House special primary; state plans appeal | Nation |

Alaska: Cyber review finds government websites ‘critically vulnerable’ to hackers | Linda F. Hersey/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

The state of Alaska is not keeping up with best practices for protecting its computer systems, according to an independent cyber review that found problems with patching software, maintaining certificates and securing web pages. Burke Stephenson, a consultant with Cybersec Innovation Partners, recently submitted the 28-page review to the joint Senate State of Affairs and Judiciary committees. The state government’s web infrastructure is in “a critically vulnerable position,” according to the findings. The report pointed to problems on public web pages available to anyone with a computer and internet access. Stephenson’s testimony before the joint Senate committee prompted lawmakers togo into executive session. They cited concerns about conveying sensitive information to cybercriminals for the decision to gointo the private meeting. But Stephenson said in public testimony the risks are readily known to hackers, as they are vulnerabilities that persist on state government public websites. He described the problems, which involve system maintenance and upkeep, as prevalent not just to the state of Alaska but across governments and the private sector.

Full Article: Cyber review finds government websites ‘critically vulnerable’ to hackers | Alaska News |

Alaska election officials confident in Dominion voting equipment | Tim Rockey/Frontiersman

Early voting for the cities of Palmer, Houston and Wasilla begin Sept. 20. Without an acting city clerk, Palmer has hired veteran clerk Kristie Smithers to run the elections this year. “I was the city clerk of Wasilla for 18 years and then before that, I worked for the Mat-Su Borough as deputy clerk and so I have about 59 elections underneath my belt and I’m pretty familiar with it. We’ve done lots of special meetings, initiatives, referendums, and recall elections. I have seen pretty much everything that could happen with elections,” said Smithers. Smithers praised the work of interim clerk Jeanette Sinn and Nichole Degner in assisting her with election preparation. On Tuesday, Smithers detailed the entire voting process from the summer candidate filings through the election certifications in October. The city of Palmer’s two voting precincts will both be at the Mat-Su Borough Dorothy Swanda Jones building with one in the back of the Assembly chambers and the other in the Borough Gym. Smithers detailed the five separate types of ballots that can be cast by absentee, early voting, questioned ballots, special needs ballots and personal representative voting. “We also have questioned ballots and so those are the people that usually they’re just not on the register. Maybe it might be somebody that they think they live in the city and they don’t, they’re going to vote a questioned ballot and maybe they don’t have any ID,” said Smithers. “Every now and then there might be somebody that questions another person’s eligibility. In all of my years of doing elections I’ve had that one time and that was at the Mat-Su Borough so it was a long time ago.”

Full Article: Election officials confident in Dominion voting equipment | Local News Stories |

Alaska lawmaker takes state-paid tour of Arizona’s Republican-led election audit | James Brooks/Anchorage Daily News

One of Alaska’s most conservative state lawmakers toured a controversial audit of Arizona’s election results on Monday. The audit, organized by Arizona’s Republican-controlled Senate, is part of a nationwide search by Trump supporters for any evidence of fraud that could have changed the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, said the visit will help determine whether any lessons learned by that state can be applied in Alaska. He said he’s visiting on behalf of his constituents and intends to pay for the trip out of his legislative office account. “I am grateful for the efforts that those in Arizona are making to increase confidence in their elections and hope we will be able to increase the confidence that Alaskans have in our elections as well,” he said. Former President Donald Trump lost last year’s presidential election, and public officials nationwide have found no evidence that widespread fraud or wrongdoing determined the result. The president has repeatedly said he believes otherwise, and many of his supporters have sought to find evidence of significant fraud. In Arizona, the state Senate subpoenaed ballots and voting machines from the state’s most populous county and hired a little-known firm to conduct an audit. The result has been chaotic at times. Some workers have taken to using UV lights and microscopes in search of evidence for a conspiracy theory that says ballots were illegally smuggled from Asia. Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, a Republican who oversees Alaska’s elections, said he had heard of Eastman’s trip and was “disappointed.”

Source: Alaska lawmaker takes state-paid tour of Arizona’s Republican-led election audit – Anchorage Daily News

Alaska: Election officials faced ‘unprecedented harassment’ during Anchorage mayor’s runoff, report says | Emily Goodykoontz/Anchorage Daily News

new report from Anchorage’s city clerk describes the runoff election for mayor as rife with “intense scrutiny,” “unprecedented harassment of election officials” and the “dissemination of disinformation to sow distrust among voters.” The Anchorage Assembly certified the results of the runoff on Tuesday, affirming Dave Bronson as the mayor-elect. Bronson beat opponent and Assembly member Forrest Dunbar by 45,937 to 44,744 votes, or 50.66% to 49.34%. Bronson takes office on July 1. Before the certification of any Anchorage city election, the municipal clerk’s office provides the Assembly with a report on the results and the operations of the election. In the report, presented Tuesday, the clerk’s office portrays an election as run successfully by city officials and election workers. But it also describes incidents including “disrespectful, harassing and threatening behavior” toward election officials from some campaign observers and members of the public. Supporters of Bronson — in comments made on social media, during public testimony at Assembly meetings and in comments on a conservative website — have criticized the city clerk’s handling of the election and Anchorage’s vote-by-mail system. Public records of the challenges filed during the election by Bronson’s observers show a number of the incidents described in the report involved Bronson’s observers and supporters. The majority of the registered observers were with Bronson.

Full Article: Election officials faced ‘unprecedented harassment’ during Anchorage mayor’s runoff, report says – Anchorage Daily News

Alaska Borough gets go-ahead on ADA-compliant Dominion voting machines | Sabine Poux/KDLL

The Kenai Peninsula Borough will go through with purchasing and leasing several ADA-compliant voting machines, six years after a complaint from a vision-impaired Homer man triggered a reassessment of voting accessibility on the peninsula. The plan to buy several Dominion Voting Systems machines and lease over two dozen others was primarily a response to that complaint. But it became controversial when former President Donald Trump and his followers made Dominion a target late last year, claiming the 2020 election was rigged. Rigorous audits across the U.S. have found Dominion machines to be accurate. And the borough actually already uses Dominion machines — they’re just not ADA compliant. Borough IT Systems Manager Ben Hanson said the new machines are largely the same on the backend. “The biggest difference as far as what we’re looking to implement is the ADA-compliant piece,” he said. “The ADA-compliant machine — which the vast majority of people will not use, the vast majority of people will likely still fill out a paper ballot — that ADA-compliant machine allows for the multiple methods of access.”

Full Article: Borough gets go-ahead on ADA-compliant voting machines | KDLL

Alaska: Security or suppression? Bill would change how Alaskans vote | Juneau Empire

A bill that would change how state and local elections are conducted generated controversy even before it was debated by lawmakers. Senate Bill 39 sponsored by Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, is not intended to make it more difficult to vote, he said at a State Affairs Committee hearing Thursday, but to bring trust back to Alaska’s elections. However, even before that meeting critics had said the bill would only make it hard for Alaskans to vote. The bill would implement changes in how ballots are handled by both the Division of Elections and local municipalities which run their own elections. Many of the changes are centered around the chain of custody in handling ballots. Shower’s chief of staff Terrance Shanigan said in testimony to the committee that Alaska’s statutes around the handling of ballots are vague, which led to inconsistent policies and procedures.

Full Article: Security or suppression? Bill would change how Alaskans vote | Juneau Empire

Alaska will not join Texas-led election suit | Peter Segall/Juneau Empire

Gov. Mike Dunleavy said Wednesday Alaska will not be joining the state of Texas and 16 other Republican attorneys general in a lawsuit alleging unlawful election proceedings in several states where President Donald Trump lost in his reelection bid. In a post on Facebook Dunleavy said his office did not have enough time to review the facts of the case, but would be watching the results closely. “Electoral integrity remains a cornerstone of our democracy, and every American should know that their vote matters,” Dunleavy said in his post. The Supreme Court is set to hear the case which demands the 62 total Electoral College votes in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin be invalidated, but a date has not been set according to The Associated Press. Wednesday President Trump requested he be allowed to join as a plaintiff one day after the U.S. Supreme Court refused without comment to call into question the certification process in Pennsylvania, The AP reported.

Full Article: Dunleavy: Alaska will not join Texas-led election suit | Juneau Empire

Alaska: Elections data exposure affected 113,000 Alaskans but had no impact on November results, state officials say | Aubrey Wieber/Anchorage Daily News

A data exposure caught by elections officials in October compromised the personal information of 113,000 Alaskans but had no impact on the actual election results, Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer said Thursday. The exposure involved the online voter registration database, which is separate from the voter tabulation system. “The results of the election are accurate, and we have been doing hand counts to verify that,” Meyer told reporters Thursday. State officials said “outside actors” accessed the data through a flaw in the online voter registration system, which has since been patched. They were able to pull registered voters’ names, dates of birth, state identification numbers, last four digits of Social Security numbers, addresses and party affiliations. (Party affiliations, names and addresses are already publicly available through the state’s voter information database.) The online voter registration system, which is only 5 years old, is separate from the overall registered voter database. It only includes people who have updated their voter information in the past five years.

Full Article: Elections data exposure affected 113,000 Alaskans but had no impact on November results, state officials say – Anchorage Daily News

Alaska officials say hackers stole voter info, didn’t compromise election integrity | Nathaniel Herz/Alaska Public Media

State officials said Thursday that hackers stole personal information including birth dates and driver’s license numbers of more than 100,000 Alaska voters, though they stressed there was no effect on the results of last month’s election. The hackers gained unauthorized access to data in the state’s online voter registration system, which was built and maintained by a contractor and operated by the Alaska Division of Elections, officials said in a prepared statement Thursday. Republican Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, who supervises Alaska’s election system, learned of the hack Oct. 27, his office said in the statement. “I have some sad news. The state of Alaska was the victim of data exposure by outside actors,” Meyer said at a news conference Thursday. While personal information was exposed, he added, “No other election systems or data were affected.” Officials said the flaw that exposed the data has been fixed, and Alaskans’ information is now secure, but it’s still not known exactly which records were stolen. The exposed data includes names, birth dates, driver’s license numbers, addresses, party affiliations, and the last four digits of social security numbers.

Full Article: Alaska officials say hackers stole voter info, didn’t compromise election integrity – Alaska Public Media

Alaska: Lawsuit challenges new ranked-choice voting ballot measure | James Brooks/Anchorage Daily News

The Alaskan Independence Party, its chairman and two Anchorage residents are suing the state of Alaska to overturn Ballot Measure 2, a sweeping election reform initiative that would install ranked-choice voting in Alaska’s general elections. Their lawsuit, filed Tuesday, claims that the measure would violate the plaintiffs’ rights “to free political association, free speech, right to petition, right to due process” and other rights guaranteed by the Alaska and U.S. constitutions. Filed against the state of Alaska and the Alaska Division of Elections, the lawsuit requests that the measure be nullified, that it not be used in future elections, and for “costs, damages, and attorney fees as may be appropriate.” If plaintiffs win, Alaska would keep its existing elections system. Attorney Ken Jacobus, also one of the plaintiffs, said he wrote the lawsuit broadly in hopes that other plaintiffs will join. Christine Hutchison, a member of the Alaska Republican Party Central Committee, said she will request that the party’s leaders discuss the lawsuit at their next meeting on Dec. 7. Hutchison shared her thoughts Tuesday afternoon as a caller on the KSRM Kenai talk radio show hosted by the Independence Party’s chairman, Bob Bird. Earlier this year, Republican Party chairman Glenn Clary told lawmakers that if the measure passed, his party would consider a legal challenge.

Full Article: Lawsuit challenges Alaska’s new ranked-choice voting ballot measure – Anchorage Daily News

Alaska official seeks initiative audit to calm questions | Becky Bohrer/Associated Press

Alaska Republican Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer said he plans to seek an audit of votes cast on a statewide ballot initiative to help put to rest questions some have raised about the “validity” of election results tied to the vote tabulation equipment the state uses. Meyer, who oversees elections in Alaska, said the state is charged with conducting a “fair and honest election, and I believe we’ve done that.” Meyer said the only reason he’s seeking an audit is because “so many people think our Dominion machines are faulty, corrupt and easily manipulated, and I think a lot of this is misinformation that’s coming from the national level.” President Donald Trump and some supporters have sought to sow doubt in the results of his race by attacking Dominion Voting Systems, one of the largest voting technology providers in the U.S., despite no evidence of any serious irregularities. Alaska has used the company for years and got new Dominion machines it used for the first time in this year’s primary election, Meyer said.

Full Article: Alaska official seeks initiative audit to calm questions | Hosted

Alaska: Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer says no fraud found in 2020 election, but he will ask for an audit to reassure voters | James Brooks/Anchorage Daily News

The elected official in charge of Alaska’s 2020 election said on Wednesday that he has seen no evidence of fraud or illegal activity in this year’s vote. “No, we have not seen anything that looks like fraud or looks weird or looks like an irregularity,” Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer said after the Alaska Division of Elections published final unofficial results. As of 12:14 p.m. Wednesday, 360,684 votes had been counted in Alaska’s 2020 general election. That’s the most votes ever cast in an Alaska election. Election officials will now spend a week double-checking the machine-counted result. Officials expect to certify the result Nov. 25. After that, any losing candidate can request a recount. “We do not accept recount applications until the election has been certified,” said Tiffany Montemayor, the division’s public relations manager. Meyer said on Wednesday that although he cannot request a recount, he intends to take the extraordinary step of asking officials to count all Ballot Measure 2 votes by hand. “It’s never been done,” Meyer said. That hand audit would take place after the results are certified.

Full Article: Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer says no fraud found in 2020 election, but he will ask for an audit to reassure Alaskans – Anchorage Daily News

Alaska: Votes tip in favor of election-reform measure as state counts thousands more absentee ballots | James Brooks/Anchorage Daily News

A measure seeking to reform Alaska’s election system is on track to become law if current trends hold, after the Alaska Division of Elections counted more than 37,000 additional early, absentee and questioned ballots on Thursday. Elections officials are counting votes daily and publishing updates regularly, with 326,840 of an estimated 361,000 ballots counted by 7 p.m. Thursday. More votes will be counted Friday. No state legislative races changed leaders in Thursday’s count, though several independent and Democratic candidates reduced the leads of challengers who received large shares of votes cast on Election Day. With about 34,000 ballots uncounted, there are only 497 more yes votes on Ballot Measure 2 than no votes, a difference of 0.1%. The measure trailed by 13 percentage points after Election Day, but early and absentee voters have favored it much more than Election Day voters. Alaska counts early, absentee and questioned ballots starting one week after Election Day, and continues counting through Nov. 18. Ballot Measure 2 is a three-part proposal that would put state candidates into a combined primary election for each office, and the top four vote-getters — regardless of party — would advance to a ranked-choice general election. It would also require campaign donors to more fully disclose the source of certain contributions in some races.

Full Article: Votes tip in favor of election-reform measure as Alaska counts thousands more absentee ballots – Anchorage Daily News

Alaska: Here’s why Alaska is the slowest in the nation when it comes to vote counting | Nathaniel Herz/Alaska Public Media

Questions, confusion and speculation about Alaska’s vote-counting process have erupted as state officials wait to count more than 100,000 absentee and other ballots until next week — long after other U.S. states count the vast majority of their votes. Alaska won’t start tallying its remaining ballots — at least 40% of the total — until Tuesday at the earliest, making the state stand out as a gray island in the ubiquitous red and blue electoral vote maps used by national outlets. It’s the only one to have counted less than 60% of its votes, according to figures collected by The New York Times. The timeline is one that Alaska has used before. But in past years, the absentee vote count has typically been an afterthought that affects only the closest of races. This year’s massive, pandemic-driven absentee turnout has changed that. State officials said the wait stems from Alaska’s huge size and complicated logistics: It has polling places in dozens of villages with no road access. Officials said they also need the extra week to finish the time-consuming process of logging the names of each Alaskan who voted on Election Day, then cross-referencing with absentee ballots to make sure no one’s votes are counted twice.

Full Article: Here’s why Alaska is the slowest in the nation when it comes to vote counting – Alaska Public Media

Alaska Elections Officials Prepare for Absentee Ballot Count | Becky Bohrer/Associated Press

Alaska election officials plan to begin counting more than 155,000 absentee and other ballots Tuesday, a week after Election Day. Some have questioned or criticized the lag, citing a provision of state law that says the counting of reviewed absentee ballots should begin the night of the election. But Maria Bahr, an Alaska Department of Law spokesperson, said absentee ballots are not deemed eligible for counting until voter histories have been run to guard against any possible duplicate votes. The process involves going through precinct registers, which election officials were still receiving Monday, Division of Elections spokesperson Tiffany Montemayor said. She said it can take time for mail to arrive in the vast state. “We’re using every resource that we can to get those things in as fast as we can,” she said. Election officials urged patience ahead of the election, anticipating a large volume of absentee ballots and saying it would take time for results to be known. Some campaigns emphasized absentee and early voting amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Full Article: Alaska Elections Officials Prepare for Absentee Ballot Count | Alaska News | US News

Alaska: Emails sent to Deocrats on Tuesday warned them to “vote for Trump or else” | By Nathaniel Herz/Alaska Public Media

Alaskans across the state received emails Tuesday morning warning them to “vote for Trump or else,” in an incident that’s drawn the attention of the FBI and the state Division of Elections. In emails and social media posts, more than a dozen Alaskans reported that messages were sent to people in Anchorage, Soldotna, Kenai, Homer, Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg, Ketchikan, Bristol Bay, Denali Park, Palmer and the Fairbanks area. News reports from Florida indicated that the same messages were sent to at least 183 voters there.In a copy of the email shared by Anchorage resident Kane Stanton, the sender told Stanton that “we are in possession of all your information (email, address, telephone).” “You are currently registered as a Democrat and we know this because we have gained access into the entire voting infrastructure,” said the message to Stanton, a 36-year-old hardware store manager. “You will vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you. Change your party affiliation to Republican to let us know you received our message and will comply.”

Alaska: Lawsuit says automatically mailing absentee ballot applications only to those 65 and older is unconstitutional | Andrew Kitchenman/Alaska Public Media

A lawsuit over the state’s decision to automatically send absentee ballot applications only to those 65 and older is headed to federal court. The lawsuit alleges that the action unconstitutionally discriminates against younger voters. Anchorage lawyer Scott Kendall filed the lawsuit on behalf of several plaintiffs. “Our lawsuit’s very simple: You want to help people to vote absentee? We applaud it. Help all eligible vote absentee in the same way,” he said. “And don’t discriminate in an unconstitutional fashion.” Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer announced in June that the state would be sending requests to vote by mail to all Alaskans 65 and older. He cited the increased risk that older people face for complications from COVID-19. The lawsuit was filed by the Disability Law Center of Alaska, Native Peoples Action Community Fund, Alaska Public Interest Research Group and two residents. The lawsuit said limiting who automatically receives the applications violates the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which says the rights of citizens 18 and older to vote shall not be denied or abridged on account of age. And the lawsuit said that word “abridged” is key — and that it means some voters can’t have a better opportunity to vote than others. Kendall said the age cutoff is arbitrary.

Alaska: State plans to mail absentee ballot applications to seniors, prompting calls to send them to all Alaska voters | Andrew Kitchenman/Alaska Public Media

Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer has announced a plan to mail absentee ballot applications to Alaskans ages 65 and older. Some lawmakers and voting advocates are concerned that this would create unequal access to those who don’t automatically get ballot applications. During an online town hall on Thursday, Meyer described why the Division of Elections will be mailing absentee ballot applications to all registered voters who are 65 and older: They have a greater risk of getting COVID-19. “That is a very vulnerable group,” said Meyer, a Republican. Meyer said the state Division of Elections is hearing it directly from seniors who have worked at the polls in the past. “A lot of these people right now are reluctant to commit, because they’re worried about the virus, or the pandemic,” he said. “And they should be, and if they’re not comfortable, we don’t want them to come out.” Meyer said the state is encouraging voters to request absentee ballots or to vote early to reduce the lines on election day. Some think the state should go further, and send the applications to all registered voters.

Alaska: Lieutenant governor rules out by-mail elections for Alaska’s August primary | James Brooks/Anchorage Daily News

The state of Alaska will keep in-person polling places open during its Aug. 18 primary election, Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer said Friday. That announcement bucks the trend set by other West Coast states. A week ago, California said it would conduct its elections entirely by mail this year in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Oregon and Washington already have successful by-mail election programs, and Hawaii’s was already set to begin this year. “We’ve determined that the best way to go is to go with our current process, but with some modifications,” Meyer said. He said he has not yet determined the status of the November general election. “I’m thinking primary, just because nobody knows what the virus will look like in early November,” he said. Under the Alaska Constitution, the lieutenant governor is the top official in charge of the state’s elections. Meyer said poll workers will be provided with protective equipment, and Alaskans who vote in person will be given a mask and latex gloves if they do not have them when they come to a polling station.

Alaska: Emergency law may require Alaskans to vote by mail in August election | James Brooks/Anchorage Daily News

The Alaska Senate approved a proposal Tuesday that would give the lieutenant governor the power to order statewide elections by mail if warranted by the spread of COVID-19. That power was among several the Senate sought to give Alaska’s executive branch as it unanimously approved a sweeping emergency bill intended to address the health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill would extend the governor’s declaration of a public health emergency through Sept. 1 and grant him special powers. The bill passed unanimously by the Senate allows by-mail elections only for the August statewide primary and any special election before Sept. 1, such as the proposed recall of Gov. Mike Dunleavy. If the Legislature were to extend the public health emergency through November, the lieutenant governor would have the power to order the November general election to be conducted by mail, also. Anchorage conducts municipal elections by mail and the Alaska Democratic Party is holding a by-mail election for president. The state does not universally conduct elections by mail, although tens of thousands of absentee ballots are cast each election by mail.

Alaska: State buying new voting machines for 2020 | Amanda Bohman/Fairbanks Newsminer

The state of Alaska is replacing the voting machines used in Fairbanks and elsewhere starting with the August 2020 state primary election, according to state and borough elections officials. That means Tuesday’s election was the last regular election for the AccuVote machines that have been used here for the past 20 years. The new machines are ImageCast Precinct ballot counters, or ICPs. The voter experience will not change much, officials said. People will continue to vote privately in a booth and then feed their ballot into a machine that tabulates the votes. The process will take a few seconds longer because the new technology captures an image of each ballot, officials said. The city of Valdez has been using the ICP machines for a few years. The clerk said they work well. “We love it. My voters love it. I haven’t had any problems with their equipment at all,” Valdez City Clerk Sheri Pierce said. The machines are made by Dominion Voting Systems, the same company that manufactured the AccuVote machines.

Alaska: Fairbanks election lawsuit goes before Supreme Court | Alaska Public Media

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.

Alaska: Lieutenant Governor wants audit of election system | Alton Telegraph

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.