Voter registration deadline on Sunday

Posted: Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Alaska residents have until Sunday to register to vote or change their party affiliation for the upcoming primary and general elections.

Voter registration forms can be picked up at the Juneau and Douglas public libraries, the state Division of Motor Vehicles, and the Division of Elections regional office.

Registration forms also can be downloaded on the state's Web site at http://www.elections.state.ak.us. But the forms must be submitted by mail or fax or in person to the Division of Elections.

Voter registration forms can be found at the following locations:

• Juneau Public Library, 292 Marine Way.

• Douglas Public Library, 1016 Third St.

• Division of Motor Vehicles, 2760 Sherwood Lane, Suite B, or on the eighth floor of the State Office Building at 333 Willoughby Ave.

• Regional elections office on the sixth floor of the Court Plaza Building, 240 Main St.

Virginia Breeze, spokeswoman for the Division of Elections, said the regional elections office will be open Saturday, July 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, July 28, from noon to 4 p.m. Registration forms can be dropped off at the office or faxed to 465-2289.

Registration forms mailed to the regional elections office must be postmarked by the July 28 deadline to be processed.

Breeze said regional elections offices in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau and Nome have received several calls in the past few weeks from voters wanting to change their party affiliation.

That may be due to the state's restructuring of primary elections.

The old system allowed voters to select candidates across party lines. But under the new six-ballot primary system, voters registered under any one of the six parties are allowed to vote only in that party's primary election.

The change in law came as a result of a 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision that states could not allow non-party members to choose a party's candidate. In response, the Alaska Legislature passed a law last year changing the primary election process.

That has caused consternation among some voters who do not want to declare party affiliation.

Breeze said 51 percent of the state's voters are registered as nonpartisan, undeclared or "other." Those voters will be given the option of choosing which party's primary to vote for in the Aug. 27 election.

Breeze said some voters have voiced concerns that the names of voters registered as nonpartisan, undeclared or "other" who choose a party ballot during the primary election will become public information. But she said that information is private. In contrast, the names of people registered with a party are public information.

There also has been concern that those voters not wanting to choose a party in the primary will have to do so in order to vote on a ballot measure in that election. Breeze said voters have the option of choosing a party in order to get a ballot and then voting on the measure and leaving the other choices blank.

Of the angry phone calls from voters that the elections offices has received, Breeze said, "The answer that we give people is that the remedy for folks who don't like the law is to talk to their legislators."

Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at timothyi@juneauempire.com.



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