Assembly to vote on vote-by-mail elections

  • By KAYLEE OSOWSKI
  • Monday, June 16, 2014 11:14pm
  • News

Originally, it was thought that holding Kenai Peninsula Borough elections by mail would be more cost effective, but according to a fiscal note, it would actually cost more money.

“I was disappointed because I initially thought … that we could actually save money, but the extra printing and postage costs added up,” said assembly member Bill Smith.

However, the assumed savings were a secondary consideration, Smith said about an ordinance he sponsored to require vote-by-mail elections. His main motive is to increase voter participation.

A public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for tonight’s borough assembly meeting.

Last year, the borough saw about 21 percent of voters turn out, which Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, said is “dismal at best.”

While costs are estimated to rise if elections are held by mail, Smith called the increase modest.

According to a fiscal note prepared by Borough Clerk Johni Blankenship, costs for mayoral election years are estimated to increase by $57,420 and by $23,090 for non-mayoral election years, if the assembly approves vote-by-mail elections.

The largest savings would be in personnel costs with a decrease of $10,910. Three boards — logic and accuracy testing, absentee voting officials and canvass — would require only 30 people compared to 116 for polling place elections.

“We kept everything except for day-of-election workers,” Blankenship said.

Contract services, which includes ballot stuffing and out-the-door postage cost, would see one of the highest increases at $19,750. The borough pays for return postage for the voted ballots as well.

“We also have a charge, a pretty large charge, when they are returned undeliverable,” Blankenship said.

However, returned undeliverable ballots, Blankenship said, will help the borough to verify bad residential addresses.

Of the 28 precincts within the borough, six are currently absentee-by-mail only.

For people who prefer to vote in person, absentee-voting stations will be available 15 days before Election Day at the borough clerk’s office at the George A. Navarre Administration Building in Soldotna, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Annex office in Homer and the nearest city clerk’s office.

The borough is able to consider by-mail elections because the Alaska Legislature passed Senate Bill 213 this year, which eliminates the need for election boards for each precinct. Requiring an election board for each precinct for local governments that want to hold by-mail or electronic elections is costly and wasteful, Micciche said, according to an April press release.

“It’s a simple bill, but I think the results, hopefully, will result in more Alaskans becoming engaged in local elections and ultimately becoming more interested in the results of those elections,” Micciche said.

Micciche said he thinks local governments that chose hold by-mail elections in Alaska will see a dramatic increase in voter participation because it will be more convenient for rural Alaskans.

“If we try (by-mail elections) for a couple of years and it doesn’t work out, we can always go back,” Smith said. “It’s not the end of the world.”

Kaylee Osowski can be reached at kaylee.osowski@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

tease
House District 6 race gets 3rd candidate

Alana Greear filed a letter of intent to run on April 5

Kenai City Hall is seen on Feb. 20, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai water treatment plant project moves forward

The city will contract with Anchorage-based HDL Engineering Consultants for design and engineering of a new water treatment plant pumphouse

Students of Soldotna High School stage a walkout in protest of the veto of Senate Bill 140 in front of their school in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
SoHi students walk out for school funding

The protest was in response to the veto of an education bill that would have increased school funding

The Kenai Courthouse as seen on Monday, July 3, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Clam Gulch resident convicted of 60 counts for sexual abuse of a minor

The conviction came at the end of a three-week trial at the Kenai Courthouse

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meets in Seward, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (screenshot)
Borough awards contract for replacement of Seward High School track

The project is part of a bond package that funds major deferred maintenance projects at 10 borough schools

Kenai Peninsula Education Association President LaDawn Druce, left, and committee Chair Jason Tauriainen, right, participate in the first meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Four Day School Week Ad Hoc Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
4-day school week committee talks purpose of potential change, possible calendar

The change could help curb costs on things like substitutes, according to district estimates

A studded tire is attached to a very cool car in the parking lot of the Peninsula Clarion in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, April 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Studded tire removal deadline extended

A 15-day extension was issued via emergency order for communities above the 60 degrees latitude line

A sign for Peninsula Community Health Services stands outside their facility in Soldotna, Alaska, on Monday, April 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
PCHS to pursue Nikiski expansion, moves to meet other community needs

PCHS is a private, nonprofit organization that provides access to health care to anyone in the community

Jordan Chilson votes in favor of an ordinance he sponsored seeking equitable access to baby changing tables during a meeting of the Soldotna City Council in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna OKs ordinance seeking to increase access to baby changing tables

The ordinance requires all newly constructed or renovated city-owned and operated facilities to include changing tables installed in both men’s and women’s restrooms

Most Read