In 2020 the CBJ instituted a temporary all mail-in balloting system to minimize the spread of COVID-19. In 2021, the system was made permanent. With relatively little public dialogue, the way in which elections are conducted dramatically changed.
To illustrate my concerns I would like to share my experience.
In 2020, I received a ballot in the mail at my home address. I completed the ballot and submitted it in person at the Mendenhall Public Library. The new temporary system seemed straight-forward.
For the municipal election of 2021, I never received a ballot in the mail. I called the City Clerk’s office to report that I had not received the ballot and was told that I could vote in person and that the new ballot that I cast would cancel out the unaccounted-for ballot. I asked if it could be confirmed whether or not a ballot had been mailed to me, and if so, had it been returned. My concern was for the possibility of a fraudulently cast ballot. I was told that a ballot had been mailed but it had not yet been returned.
My mother received two ballots in the mail, her own ballot and a ballot for my brother who has not lived in Juneau for 10 years. My other brother who lives in Juneau also received two ballots, one for him and one for his son who lives in Russia and has never voted in Juneau.
When my mother completed her ballot, she asked that I mail it in for her. I brought the ballot to the USPS postal station downtown on September 22.
When I called the clerk to inquire about not receiving a ballot in the mail, I also inquired if my mother’s ballot, which had been mailed eight days prior, had been received. I was told that there was no record of my mother’s ballot being received. Again, I was told that she could revote in person and the other ballot would be canceled out.
How is one to know whether their ballot is secure, and which of the two issued ballots for my mother and I will be counted?
The goal of getting greater participation in our electoral process is a goal that I strongly support. However, the integrity of our vote cannot be jeopardized in that pursuit.
• Cathy Munoz served four terms in the Alaska State House of Representatives and three terms on the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly. She resides in Juneau.