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Changes Big and Small for Alaska Election Laws in 2014

Published On: Jan 01 2014 07:05:02 PM AKST

Change in primary date


The New Year brings a host of new changes to the Alaska’s election laws.

"Our motto is, we want to make it easier to vote and hard to cheat,” said Lt. Gov. Treadwell (R-Alaska).

House Bill 104, which went into effect Wednesday, provides for a number of changes to the election process.

Some of the changes are minor, while others are very noticeable. One big change is moving the state's primary up to the third Tuesday in August during even-numbered years. 

"It also allows for a special run-off election if no candidate in a special election to fill a vacancy for U.S. Senate or a U.S. Representative receives at least 50 percent of the vote,” said Director of Elections Gail Fenumiai.

Absentee ballots postmarked from overseas must be received ten days after the primary election, five days earlier than before. The law still allows 15 days to get absentee ballots in following the general election.

Lt. Gov. Treadwell, who oversees elections in Alaska, said municipal clerks now have the option of serving as absentee voting officials during statewide elections.

"If you can't get to the polls on Election Day, or you want to vote early, you can go to the clerk’s office, the city clerk, in virtually any city in the state,” he said.

All election precincts that functioned in the 2012 election cycle will be open during the 2014 election. Language assistance will continue in precincts as well. The Division of Elections is also offering every municipality the opportunity to hold local elections on the same day as state elections.

"It should result in a cost savings,” Treadwell said. “Right now we're sitting down with the City of Anchorage to go over it, to get certain questions answered, slight changes in our regulations if necessary, to accomplish some of the cost savings."

Other changes include an electronic voter roll implemented at each polling station to help cut back on fraud. The Lieutenant Governor can also now conduct elections for advisory boards in rural school districts.