Alaska not changing voter registration deadline amid concern

  • By Becky Bohrer
  • Saturday, October 1, 2016 7:23pm
  • News

JUNEAU — A state election official said Friday that Alaska will not change its voter registration deadline amid concerns raised by two U.S. senators about Alaska’s deadline and that of several other states falling on a holiday weekend.

Carol Thompson, with Alaska’s Division of Elections, said by email that division offices will be open the weekend of Oct. 8 and 9 to help voters. Alaska also has an online voter registration system and allows people to submit applications by mail, fax or email.

The registration deadline is Sunday, Oct. 9 — 30 days before the general election. Oct. 10 is a federal holiday, with no postal service. The 30-day requirement is set out in state law, Thompson said.

Applications submitted online or by fax can be received up to midnight on Oct. 9, she wrote. Applications sent by mail must be postmarked on or before the registration deadline, she said.

U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer of New York and Patrick Leahy of Vermont have asked the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to intervene in the states, citing concerns with potentially thousands of voters being disenfranchised.

The other states cited by the senators are Arizona, Arkansas, Hawaii, Mississippi, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah and Washington. Officials in at least three states said they would honor or had recommended honoring applications postmarked Oct. 11.

More than 22,000 people have registered to vote in Alaska since the state’s online voter registration system went live last November, Thompson said.

The Division of Elections last week also sent postcards to about 25,000 addresses — representing about 50,000 people eligible to vote but who had not yet registered — to inform them of how they can register for the November general election, she said.

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