Alaska Votes debuts new voting tool

photo by Greg Lincoln

In time for the 2018 midterm and gubernatorial elections, Alaska Votes has created a new tool to make voting in Alaska elections easier than ever – AKvote.org. By enabling voters to complete the entire process of requesting and submitting online delivery absentee ballots from their phones or computers, Alaska Votes has eliminated another barrier to the ballot.
The new tool has two functions: first, it helps Alaska voters request a ballot to be delivered to them electronically using the state’s recently developed Online Delivery platform. Requests can be submitted up until November 5, 2018 — one day before the General Election. After receiving their ballot from the state (generally within 24-48 hours of request) and completing it online, voters have the option to return their ballots to the state by mail or fax.
The second function of AKVotes.org lets voters upload and return their ballots via secure electronic fax, directly to the Division of Elections. This novel method of voting will greatly ease the time burden of voting for many Alaskans, especially those temporarily out of state or with other barriers to accessing in-person voting.
Because Alaska is a “no-excuse” absentee voting state, any Alaskan registered to vote can use the tool to request a ballot via online delivery. Until AKvotes.org, “Electronic” voting meant submitting a ballot through the cumbersome and long-obsolete fax system. Now, any registered Alaska voter can complete the entire process on their computer or phone.
Alaska Votes was created by a group of Alaskan college students who were frustrated by the hassle of absentee voting. Mail-in ballots too often arrive at the wrong address, arrive late, or do not arrive at all.
“Too many Alaskans I know who are living away from home find it hard to submit their ballots by mail,” Co-Founder Stephen Mell said. “Whether because they don’t have stamps or they don’t request a ballot soon enough for it to reach them by Election Day. This tool addresses those problems.”
All Alaskans should have their voice heard, whether or not they can access a voting booth, mailbox, or fax machine. For these reasons, the Alaska Votes team developed a tool to eliminate one of the last remaining barriers to civic participation in the state. According to project contributor Ruby Steedle, “Alaskans, especially our young Alaskans, want a fast, secure way to submit their ballot that doesn’t force them to find a printer and stamp.”
Alaska Votes was built by volunteers, receiving no financial or technical support from the State of Alaska, including the Division of Elections, or any political party.

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