Treadwell oversees the state’s Division of Elections department. He said the move was in response to complaints that the elections site wasn’t close enough to the Coast Guardsmen on base.
“According to the director of elections, we’d received some complaints that there wasn’t a poll site as easily accessible to people on base,” Treadwell said.
The elections division also received instructions from the Pentagon to make voting easier for military members.
“Those two things went into the calculus of this,” Treadwell said. “We don’t like to move voting places because people get used to the pattern. To allow and encourage military members to vote, we did move one here and in Fairbanks.”
Aside from affecting the voters in the Womens Bay, Chiniak and Bell’s Flats area, the change also affects the elections planning staff in Kodiak.
Borough clerk Nova Javier, who helps organize the elections, will now have more planning ahead of her with the new location.
Now that the site has been changed, Javier has to figure out where to store the voting booths, voting box and other equipment.
“I’m thinking of contacting the Coast Guard to see if there is a place for me to store the equipment,” she said. “It’d be silly to haul the equipment back and forth for the three elections.”
At first the lieutenant governor’s office was looking at having two polling sites, one on the Coast Guard base and one in Womens Bay, Javier said.
“They got inputs and comments from me, but I didn’t know it was going to move so fast,” Javier said. “Personally, I felt Womens Bay was not that far.”
The Kodiak Island Borough found out about the decision during a Thursday night borough work session.
Assembly member Carol Austerman made the suggestion to draft a letter to the lieutenant governor from the borough mayor, requesting the voting station be reinstated in Womens Bay.
“It’s important because long term residents that live in Womens Bay and Bell’s Flats and further out the road, need a consistent polling place that they can access near residences,” Austerman said. “While it’s wonderful that the Coast Guard has a closer opportunity, I think the decision was made without a lot of input, and definitely without the borough’s input.”
The borough hopes to have the letter in the mail by early next week.
“We wanted to respond immediately since they made the decision to move it so quickly,” Austerman said.
Treadwell said the voting site won’t be changed for the primary election, but he would consider moving it back to the original site for subsequent elections if there was increased voter confusion and complaints. He would also have to get federal clearance to reinstate the Womens Bay site.