My Turn: Alaska's General Election plans on track and secure

Election issues, both state and national, have been in the news lately, which has increased scrutiny and fear among some voters. I join my colleagues with the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) to assure you our elections have been and will continue to be conducted with integrity and transparency.

 

Ninety-nine percent of all voters in Alaska cast a paper ballot. That’s right — 99 percent. Alaska’s ballot tabulation system has a paper trail of every ballot cast. The ballot tabulation system used in Alaska to produce and count ballots is federally certified and is thoroughly tested prior to each election.

In an effort to ensure Alaska’s election system is secure, the state commissioned the University of Alaska-Anchorage to conduct security studies of election equipment and processes from 2007-2011. The security of the election equipment and internal security measures, processes and procedures used by the Division of Elections was reviewed extensively. The study found that Alaska’s election system is among the most secure in the country.

Alaska uses a multi-layered security model, which is continuously improving layers as technology and better practices become known. Alaska has introduced some improved tools and practices in encrypted communication. This reduces the risk of the loss of voter data during transmission. Results posted on election night are unofficial. Certification of election materials are audited for accuracy by the bipartisan State Review Board and final results are scheduled to be certified by Nov. 29.

Alaska is one of a handful of states that publishes a print and online Official Election Pamphlet. For the first time in the history of Alaska, the information is available in six dialects of Yup’ik and in Gwich’in. This effort was made possible through the work and collaboration of elections staff and 14 translators who are Native speakers, teachers, linguists and elders. In-person training to bilingual outreach and poll worker training has occurred in St. Mary’s and Dillingham and in various communities in the Interior and Fairbanks for the Yukon Koyukuk Census Area.

Many of these extra measures are the result of the language assistance lawsuit we settled earlier this year, and speakers of Alaska Native languages have more tools than ever before to make an informed decision at the ballot box.

Every two years about 2,300 Alaskans generously devote their time working at 441 precinct polling places and 182 absentee and early voting locations statewide. For the General Election we added additional poll worker training sessions in Kotzebue and Barrow, and Division of Elections Director Josie Bahnke was personally on hand for the Kotzebue training.

I’m pleased to say that more than 12,000 residents registered to vote since we sent out reminder postcards in September to Alaskans who were eligible to vote but not registered. A total of 528,625 registered voters are eligible to vote in this General Election. Early and absentee in-person voting began Oct. 24 and runs through Monday. As of Friday, 45,794 Alaskans have already voted by mail, fax, online delivery, early and in person.

The Alaska Division of Elections’ mission is straightforward — to ensure that every qualified voter has a meaningful opportunity to cast a ballot and have his or her vote counted. I’ll be voting on Tuesday, Nov. 8, and I urge all voters to confidently cast their ballots.

Thank you for your participation in our nation’s democracy by taking the time to vote.

• Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott oversees elections as part of his duties. To find your polling place, go online to http://elections.alaska.gov/vi_w_polls.php. For more election information visit http://elections.alaska.gov/.

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