AKCES Table and Table Partners Express Concern Over Rejected Vote Rate in Rural Alaska

Sample ballot. Image-State of Alaska

The Alaska Civic Engagement State Table (AKCES), a coalition of nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations dedicated to strengthening democracy, calls on the Division of Elections to speak out about the alarming rates of ballot rejections for voters in the regions to the linguistically diverse populations that participated in the statewide special primary election.

With at least 7,504 ballots received by the Division of Elections being disqualified and not counted, including 1 in 6 ballots cast by rural Alaska voters, the AKCES table and table partners are deeply concerned. by potential inequities in statewide electoral processes.

In the months leading up to the June 11 special primary election, AKCES member organizations reached thousands of registered Alaskan voters across the state through our Get Out the Vote program, which sparked a historic level of enthusiasm and interest in this election. With ballot rejection rates reaching over 17% in some rural and linguistically diverse areas of the state, AKCES is calling on the Elections Division to address the source of this inequity and make changes to electoral systems that lead to these systematic challenges. The witness signature requirement was the leading cause of rejections in rural Alaska districts.

It is imperative that the Division of Elections investigate the lack of education, awareness and potential lack of access to voting materials in the primary language of voters. Action by the Elections Division is needed to ensure that non-English speaking voters do not face additional barriers to voting successfully and to ensure that every eligible vote is counted and counted fairly.

While this may be a one-time, statewide special election, the Elections Division needs to make sure every eligible vote counts. With ballot rejection rates reaching such high levels in our first statewide mail-in ballot election, there is cause for concern. The high rates of rejected ballots in specific communities point to a larger problem and underscore the need to overcome election hurdles faced by Alaskans, including the need to incorporate a ballot hardening process. voting, additional investments in language translation and better access to voting. by mail statewide.

We look forward to hearing from the Elections Division regarding the high rate of rejected ballots. Specifically, the witness signature requirement that was implemented this year and working with the Division of Elections and policymakers ahead of the next statewide election to ensure every vote counts. in Alaska.

The Alaska Civic Engagement State Table (AKCES) is a coalition of nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations that seek to coordinate and collaborate in building democracy by uniting people and building our collective political power to deliver justice and a thriving community through voter engagement, non-partisan education and protecting voter rights by removing barriers to civic engagement.

“We are deeply concerned about the high number of ballots that have been rejected, particularly because the greatest disparities are among Alaska Native, Colored, and English as a Second Language communities. Voting is a fundamental right and every vote should count. This is a grave injustice and we are calling on the Division of Elections to provide an explanation and implement solutions.
– Pamela Miller, Executive Director, Alaska Community Action on Toxics and AKCES
Member of the Table’s steering committee

“All Alaskan voters deserve to have their voices heard. When an unprecedented number of Alaskan voters trying to participate in our elections have their ballots rejected, especially those from rural communities and neighborhoods in Anchorage to East Anchorage, Mountain View and Fairview, the State of Alaska is failing our democracy The Division of Elections must provide answers as to why these ballots were rejected and must take swift action to remedy these problems in the future so that democracy works for all.
– Polly Carr, Executive Director, The Alaska Center Education Fund and AKCES Table
Member of the steering committee

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