Rethink Voting By Mail

    Rethink Voting By Mail

    submitted by: PeggyAnn McConnochie


    At its Monday, April 26 regular meeting, the Juneau Assembly will discuss conducting our October municipal election by mail in 2021.  

    Last year, because of Covid-19 concerns, the City contracted out our local election to the municipality of Anchorage at a cost of about $175,000.  A typical municipal election costs around $98,000.

    The decision to fundamentally change the way we have historically voted was made without any public input.  However, I do not fault the Assembly for acting in haste to ensure the health and safety of voters and election workers.

    But we are in a much different place now.  The threat to public health has subsided substantially since last summer, and we have the time to thoughtfully consider how best to move forward.

    Before deciding what to do this year, at a minimum, the Assembly should establish an ad hoc elections advisory committee to solicit public input and report back to the Assembly by June 1.

    Issues to consider include cost, convenience, and voter security.

    Last October, almost 28,000 ballots were mailed to Juneau residents but only 11,000 were returned.  17,000 ballots were printed, mailed and unused, wasting at least $30,000.  

    An effective voting system should provide every eligible resident a chance to vote at the lowest cost to taxpayers. We have always been able to request an absentee ballot and that, of course, should continue.  

    If cruise ship critics succeed in getting their initiatives on the October ballot, Juneau will be in for a heated and contentious election.  The thought of several thousand blank ballots floating around town should alarm both sides of the issue.

    I urge the Assembly to study this issue seriously, consider all of the ramifications, and at least solicit ample public input before deciding we will all vote by mail again this year.

    PeggyAnn McConnochie


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