Assembly migrates toward mail-in elections

During its meeting Tuesday, the Anchorage Assembly took a step toward handling future elections by mail.

A unanimous vote green-lighted the municipal clerk’s office to increase education and outreach on switching over to mail-in elections. The idea is for local elections to be handled in a more flexible mail-in manner starting in April of 2017.

Assembly elections committee chairman Ernie Hall said the city has the abilities to adjust to a vote-by-mail model once an official ordinance eventually comes before the Assembly.

“We believe that we can do this pretty flawlessly,” Hall said.

The decision wouldn’t affect national or state elections in November, but instead the April votes that decide bonds, referendums — as well as Assembly and mayoral races. Rather than running to one of the 122 polling stations across the municipality, voters would have the option of mailing ballots in, dropping them off in advance, or stopping by a handful polling centers open on voting day.

Voter turnout in Anchorage is traditionally low during spring elections. May’s mayoral run-off was a high for Anchorage, drawing nearly 30 percent of eligible voters to the polls.