Ballots continue to trickle into Kodiak’s rural villages, but only time will tell whether they trickle in fast enough.
As of Monday afternoon, a number of residents of Kodiak’s rural villages still had not received their absentee ballots to vote in today’s election.
Ouzinkie Mayor Elijah Jackson said he’d fielded at least 10 complaints Monday morning from residents who had not received their ballots. More ballots had arrived on the mail plane, Jackson said, but not everyone’s ballot. Another mail plane was scheduled to arrive this morning in Ouzinkie.
“I just don’t know what we’re supposed to do if people don’t have their ballots on election day,” Jackson said.
Borough code states that citizens who vote by mail must do so by midnight of election day. Then, it must reach the borough by the following Tuesday.
“It must be postmarked on or before midnight of election day and received by the clerk no later than the Tuesday following the election by 5 p.m.,” reads section 7.50.050 D of the borough’s code about absentee voting by mail.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the borough assembly designated all of the rural precincts as ballot by mail only in an ordinance passed in July. The borough is mailing ballots to everyone in those precincts. Voters will fill them out and then mail them back.
But several issues have slowed the process down. An Anchorage-based printer misprinted part of the election pamphlet and it had to be reprinted. Since the pamphlet is shipped with the ballot to the villages, this slowed down the ballots too.
The ballot and pamphlet package was shipped out of another printer in Homer, which had printed the ballots, on Sept. 23 and 24.
Port Lions Mayor Dorinda Kewan said most of her village had ballots on Monday morning. Shipments of mail arrived Saturday morning and Monday morning, carrying many people’s ballots.
“I haven’t had a chance to talk to many people today, but it looks like a majority of the ballots have arrived,” she said on Monday morning.
Still, she expressed concern that people might not have the time to get their ballots in the mail in time or might be confused about the process. Most years, people in Port Lions vote in person at the community center.
“I’m curious to see what our percentage of registered voter turnout will be. Unfortunately, it will probably be a little lower than we would like,” Kewan said.
Borough clerk Alise Rice said she had already received some absentee ballots from Larsen Bay and Port Lions postmarked Oct. 1. She said she had spoken with the borough’s attorney, Scott Brandt-Erichsen, who advised against extending any of the deadlines around voting by mail.