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Alaska

Alaska has opportunities to implement voter-centric reforms in several issue areas. Alaska should build upon its excellent work in 2020 by codifying temporary reforms enacted during the 2020 election cycle. In particular, the State should make drop boxes permanent, implement prepaid postage and the use of voting centers on election day, and authorize same day voter registration. Additionally, we suggest adding signature verification and risk-limiting audits, improving ballot tracking, and adding a cure process. As always, while policy is important, effective implementation is just as important.

As of 2021....

No Excuse Required

No Excuse Required

No excuse to vote by mail

Online Mail Ballot Application

Online Mail Ballot Application

Apply for mail ballot online

Robust Ballot Return Option

Robust Ballot Return Option

U.S. mail, drop boxes, vote centers, and more

Prepaid Postage

Prepaid Postage

Postage-paid return envelopes provided

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Accepts ballots postmarked by Election Day

Ballot Tracking

Ballot Tracking

Online method to check ballot status

Signature Verification

Signature Verification

Voter signature verified before ballot is counted

Cure Process

Cure Process

Ability to correct issues so ballot can be counted

Preprocessing

Preprocessing

Election official may process ballot before Election Day

Opportunities

Alaska can reduce costs and increase voter convenience by expanding its permanent absentee option, where voters can sign up to automatically be sent an absentee ballot for each election without having to re-apply, to all voters. Currently, only residents that are disabled or remote can sign up. States experience significant savings with these lists; on average, states save $1 for every request they no longer need to process.
Alaska has already implemented drop boxes as a result of the pandemic, but should make these return options permanent fixtures for future elections; they reduce strain on the postal system, and are sometimes a preferred method by voters who want more reassurance that their ballots will arrive on time. We recommend allowing ballots to be received at polling or vote centers, drop boxes, and other locations deemed necessary by clerks.
In October 2020, a court suspended the witness requirement for the 2020 election and Alaska allowed voters to provide “voter identifiers” instead. An even more secure option would be to get rid of the witness requirement and instead implement signature verification, which ensures election security while streamlining ballot processing.
In the event that a voter’s ballot is rejected, said voter should have the ability to cure their ballot quickly and simply. As more voters use absentee ballots and, understandably, the number of rejected absentee ballots increases, we recommend implementing a Text2Cure system that allows voters to cure their ballots from their phones.
Ballot tracking software such as Ballot Scout or Ballot TRACE can be a very cost effective tool to improve Alaska’s current ballot tracking system. An expanded notification system helps keep rejection rates low and increases voter confidence and participation.
Guaranteeing prepaid postage is a voter-centric reform that breaks down an economic barrier to the ballot box. It also ensures that voters do not need to make an extra trip to the post office, which makes voting more convenient.

Recent Legislation

Before the pandemic, Alaska passed HB 115, which established a permanent absentee voting list. After the start of the pandemic, the Legislature passed SB 241, which allowed the Director of the Division of Elections to execute elections entirely by mail throughout 2020 and adopt emergency regulations to make mail voting easier. It also instituted other pro-voter reforms like ballot tracking. Following this lead, the Alaska Democratic Party held their April presidential primary entirely by mail and the State Elections Director expanded the use of drop boxes statewide. Alaska has not yet passed legislation to codify these electoral improvements, but has the opportunity to do so until the session ends later in 2021.