Absentee voters get head start on election

Posted: Wednesday, October 23, 2002

With 13 days left before the general election, Alaskans who are unable to be in their voting precinct on Election Day already are casting their ballots.

The Alaska Committee, which is fighting a ballot initiative to move the Legislature to Anchorage or the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, is urging Juneau residents to vote early via absentee ballot to ensure they make it to the polls to defeat Ballot Measure 2.

"You never know what's going to happen with the weather," said Jamie Parsons, executive director for the Juneau Chamber of Commerce.

Parsons said the Alaska Committee is shooting for 17,000 voters to make it to the polls by the Nov. 5 general election. In the 1994 ballot initiative to move the capital out of Juneau, Parsons said, about 16,300 of the approximately 20,000 registered voters in Juneau turned out for the election. Parsons said Juneau has gained 4,000 new voters since then.

Absentee voting began Monday, and Amanda Webb with the Division of Elections said she already has received about 60 ballot requests by fax.

Webb said there has been an increase in absentee voting in the last few years. In the 1996 presidential election the state issued 25,296 absentee ballots by mail, but in 2000 that number jumped to 32,166.

For more Juneau Empire coverage of the November 5 general election, please visit the Juneau Empire Elections Guide.

Absentee voting locations in Juneau have seen a similar increase in voter turnout, according to Regional Elections Supervisor Pam Crowe.

Crowe said the regional office typically sees between 50 and 75 absentee voters a day, but since Monday, the office has had from 70 to 134 absentee voters a day.

Applications to vote absentee can be found at the Division of Elections Web site at www.gov.state.ak.us/ltgov/elections/abinfo.htm. Absentee ballot applications can be received by mail up to seven days before the election.

There are four ways to vote absentee in the upcoming election: by mail, fax, in person or through a personal representative for voters with disabilities.

Registered voters can cast their ballots early in person at the Nugget Mall in the Mendenhall Valley or at the Division of Elections office downtown. Ballots for all 40 of Alaska's legislative districts can be found on the sixth floor of the Court Plaza Building at 240 Main St. in downtown Juneau.

Places and times to absentee vote in Juneau:

• Region 1 Elections Office, 240 Main St., Suite 601, 465-3021

Oct. 21-Nov. 4, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.- 5 p.m.

Nov. 2, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Nov. 3, noon-4 p.m.

Nov. 5, 7 a.m.-8 p.m.

• Nugget Mall, 8745 Glacier Hwy., 465-3021

Oct. 21-Nov. 4, Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Nov. 2, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Nov. 3, noon-4 p.m.

Nov. 5, 7 a.m.- 8 p.m.

Mailing addresses for absentee voting:

• Court Plaza Building, 240 Main St., Suite 200

• Region I Elections Office, P.O. Box 110018, Juneau, AK 99811-0018

Fax number for absentee voting:

• 907-465-3825

Absentee ballot applications can be found at:

• www.gov.state.ak.us/ltgov/elections/abinfo.htm.

For more information e-mail amanda_webb@gov.state.ak.us

For those who are traveling, voting also is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on election day at airports in Juneau, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Ketchikan, Kodiak and Sitka.

Voters also have the option of absentee voting by mail. They must first send an absentee application to verify voter registration.

Tuesday, Oct. 29, at midnight is the deadline to request a ballot by mail.

Voters also can cast their ballots absentee by fax, but the Division of Elections recommends the technique as a last resort because anonymity cannot be ensured.

"We try to protect their privacy as much as possible," Webb said, noting only two people at the Division of Elections handle the faxed absentee ballots. "But (voters who fax their ballots) do waive their right to the secret ballot."

Those voting absentee by fax also must request ballots before voting. The deadline for fax ballot requests is 5 p.m., Nov. 4.

Disabled voters can vote absentee through a personal representative who brings the ballot to them within 15 days of the election. Those voting through a personal representative must complete a certificate authorizing the representative to act as a handler of the ballot.

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

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