Matanuska-Susitna Borough residents have made it clear by speaking during the public testimony portion of recent assembly meetings that they want election voting machines out of their precincts. An ordinance sponsored by Assemblymember Ron Bernier would do just that — requiring ballots to be counted by hand instead of run through voting machines.
Ordinance 22-119 would require ballots to be counted by hand only and has passed by a vote of 6-1, with only Assembly Member Stephanie Nowers opposing.
The assembly also passed a motion to have a special meeting on January 17, 2023, at 3 p.m. about elections.
The legislation would amend Title 25 of the Mat-Su Borough Code which focuses on elections, and is being discussed at Tuesday’s regular assembly meeting.
The ordinance comes after the assembly already passed a resolution directing the clerk to perform a hand recount of the upcoming Nov. 8 elections. Assemblymember Stephanie Nowers — who was in favor of the resolution — thinks the borough might be getting ahead of itself by introducing the new ordinance before the recount takes place.
“The assembly, including myself, just approved doing a full hand recount for this election to double-check the machines,” Nowers stated. “I think it would be good to sit down after this election, look at how it went, and decide the best way forward for next year’s election.”
The measure is expected to pass, and Borough Mayor DeVries is expected to approve it.
Could the Mat-Su be showing the path forward for lots of different regions? In Alaska, I’d say… maybe? In other places?
With a tad over 107,000 residents in the Mat-Su, we’re not looking at a huge number of ballots – in the 2021 election for Mayor (the only Borough-wide election) we had 15,652 votes cast. That’s not an enormous number, election-wise. Easily countable. But as has been famously said, over and over, what matters is who is doing the counting.
Here in our Borough, I’m reasonably confident in the results. Were I in Philadelphia, or Chicago, or Pittsburgh, or Atlanta? Not so much.
While I’m glad to see the ImageCast machines going away here in the Mat-Su, the nation’s problems with election shenanigans are larger than just the method used to tally ballots. And while in a small community like ours, one can be reasonably confident in the tally, in plenty of places, you can’t.
So what would help? Well, we have to show ID to vote in Alaska. That would be helpful. Having poll watchers from both parties would help. Calling “bullshit” on crap like “water leaks” that leave no trace behind would help, too.
Voter fraud goes as far back as the Greeks. We’ll probably never be able to eliminate it. The best we can hope for, probably, is to keep it to a minimum. Here, in the Mat-Su, this move to return to hand-counting is a good start.