Juneau Assembly greenlights new ballot counting facility

A voter mails an absentee ballot in October 2020.
A voter mails an absentee ballot in October 2020. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

The Juneau Assembly has committed $700,000 to convert a city warehouse into a ballot processing center.

The facility will support a permanent move to holding local elections by mail. Juneau did that for the first time in 2020 because of pandemic concerns, and will again for the election that begins this week and ends Oct. 5.

For now, Juneau’s election officials are relying on Anchorage for a secure facility and equipment to count ballots.

The local League of Women Voters supports the change. Marjorie Menzi with the league told the Assembly on Monday that last year’s by-mail election drew the highest voter turnout in 20 years.

“The league believes that success is identified in a democracy by citizen participation. We consider voting by mail a success in Juneau. Voting by mail is a secure and fraud-free method of voting. … Providing adequate funding for our most fundamental right seems a reasonable expenditure of public dollars.”

City officials expect the facility to be ready for next year’s local election.

Juneau engineering officials drew up this floor plan of how a city-owned, surplus warehouse along Thane Road could be converted to a center for processing mailed-in ballots starting in the 2022 municipal election. The floor plan was in Assembly committee meeting packets in July and August of 2021.

Jeremy Hsieh

Local News Reporter, KTOO

I dig into questions about the forces and institutions that shape Juneau, big and small, delightful and outrageous. What stirs you up about how Juneau is built and how the city works?

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