A ballot for the 2021 municipal election. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire File)

A ballot for the 2021 municipal election. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire File)

Opinion: There are positives to vote-by-mail elections

Having ballots at home allows families to discuss issues and candidates together.

  • Wednesday, October 27, 2021 1:20pm
  • Opinion

Recently, there have been several people writing to the Empire about the downsides of voting by mail. I see only advantages.

Having ballots at home allows families to discuss issues and candidates together resulting in more civic engagement. I would never have found out that my daughter-in-law knew that one candidate was creepy without the issue coming up over the ballot.

In the last five years, I have had a diminishment of mobility and really appreciate the ease of voting by mail. I, too, miss seeing my friends and neighbors at the polls but local organizations give us many opportunities for those contacts through festivals, concerts, art shows, and other occasions. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has affected those events for the same reason we no longer vote at the polls. I am glad the City and Borough of Juneau has committed funds so future ballots can be counted locally and we will no longer have to wait for results to be counted in Anchorage even in the case of future pandemics or other emergencies.

Several years ago the state of Alaska began automatic voter registration for those who were at least 18 years old and applied for a Permanent Fund Dividend, unless they opted out. That makes sense. If you are an adult resident for the purposes of the PFD, you are eligible to vote. In fact the length of residence is much shorter for voting than for a PFD. Cathy Munoz, in a recent My Turn, said that a brother who has not lived in Juneau for 10 years, and a nephew who has never lived in Juneau both received ballots in the mail. Rick Currier in another My Turn said they received two ballots for sons who have not lived in Alaska for decades. My concern is that some people may be receiving ballots because they are using Alaska residence addresses for the purpose of illegally receiving PFDs. Anyone who falsely claims an Alaska residence for the purposes of receiving a PFD is not only breaking the law, they are diminishing the amount the rest of us receive. I hope the CBJ and state of Alaska will check these claims to clean up the voter rolls and verify PFD payments. If anyone else received ballots for people who do not live with them, they might want to warn them that there are severe consequences for illegally claiming a PFD.

• Judy Crondahl resides in Juneau. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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