Recall campaign provides at-home petition signing during COVID-19 pandemic

Residents gather on Saturday, February 29, 2020 at a kickoff event for organizers of an effort to Recall Gov. Mike Dunleavy in Juneau, Alaska. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

It may not be the most prominent item in the news cycle, but Gov. Mike Dunleavy is still facing a statewide recall. The campaign to remove him from office is in the second of three phases. Right now, the group is trying to gather enough signatures for a special election.

Earlier this month, the Recall Dunleavy followed guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and suspended all signature gathering events, according to campaign officials.

Volunteers were still allowed to do one-on-one signings, but even meeting just one person could put volunteers’ health at risk.

On Friday morning, the Recall Dunleavy campaign announced that Alaskans can now mail in their signatures. Campaign manager Claire Pywell said this way, both volunteers and signers can stay healthy.

“Given the pandemic in front of us, the recall had to meet people exactly where they are,” she said. “And right now that’s at home.”

Registered voters can go to the campaign’s website, request a personal booklet and have it sent to their homes.

Sharon Svarny-Livingston is in charge of the recall effort in Unalaska. Before Friday, she was offering to meet people for individual signatures, but requested that they bring their own pen. With the new measures, she said, she can stay safely at home and focus on her family.

“I think it’s probably best for everybody. I know it was giving my daughters a little bit of stress,” she said. “I want to eventually be able to go visit my mother again, so this is one reason why I really couldn’t.”

As of Friday afternoon, the campaign had gathered more than 30,000 signatures. It needs 71,252 signatures to move on to the next phase of the recall.

Supporters of the governor have suspended their Keep Dunleavy campaign, by the request of Dunleavy himself. Instead, he’s asking that volunteers focus on supporting their families and community.

Next week, the Alaska Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case the state has with the Recall campaign.

Related: Read more coronavirus coverage from Alaska Public Media.