Anchorage election center rolls out new technology to aid voters with disabilities

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Anchorage’s three vote centers will have new voting machines to better accommodate people with disabilities voting in this year’s city election.

Also, the city is rolling out a new way for voters to “cure” — or fix — via text message any problems with the signature on their ballot envelope.

Anchorage’s vote centers open for in-person voting on Monday, March 25 at 9 a.m. They will offer secure touchscreen voting machines with built-in features commonly used by people with visual and mobility impairments, according to the city election center.

The vote centers are located in downtown at Anchorage City Hall, in Midtown at the Loussac Library, and in Eagle River at the Eagle River Town Center.

The machines can read ballots out loud for people with sight limitations. They also use “sip-and-puff” technology for voters with physical disabilities. The devices, resembling a wand or straw, use air pressure changes to activate commands. Users inhale — sip — and exhale — puff — into the device.

For security purposes, the voting machines are air-gapped, meaning they are not connected to the internet. The air-gapped system remains locked until an election official opens a voting session with a two-factor authentication method.

In order to vote using a machine, a registered voter can go to a vote center and request the accommodation from an election official. The official will then open the voting session and leave the voter to privately complete their ballot. After finishing their ballot, the voter prints it out, puts it into their ballot return envelope and drops it into the ballot box.


Voting by mail and by secure drop box is already underway in the 2024 regular city election. Anchorage voters will elect a mayor, three school board members and decide on nine bonds and propositions. Voters in Eagle River, Chugiak and Birchwood will also see an Assembly candidate on their ballot, who is running unopposed.

Anchorage vote centers will be open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Saturday, March 30 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The final day to vote is April 2, and vote centers will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. that day.

Fixing signature issues via text

Another new technology feature this year is “TXT2Cure.” It allows voters whose ballot has been questioned by election officials due to signature discrepancies to quickly fix the problem using a smartphone, according to a statement from the election center.

The municipality’s ballot envelope signature verification process is a key part of the city’s security process to protect against voter fraud. Two election officials who’ve been trained by forensic document examiners verify the signature on every ballot envelope.

The officials compare the signature to the voter’s other signatures on file with the state’s Division of Elections, including those from previous elections, those on file with the Department of Motor Vehicles, and from other government documents.

If a voter’s ballot return envelope is missing a signature or if the signature cannot be verified by election officials, the city then sends a cure letter to the voter within three business days. The letter explains the lack of a valid signature to give the voter a chance to fix the problem and make sure their ballot is counted.

This year, the voter can cure the discrepancy by texting the word “Anchorage” to the number 28683. The voter will get a text reply with a link to click.

To cure your ballot, hit the link, enter in your state of Alaska voter ID number, affirm it was you who returned the ballot, sign the affidavit on your phone, take a photo of your ID and submit.

The elections center will receive the information and process it during business hours. Voters must cure their ballot by 10:30 a.m. on April 16 to ensure their ballot is counted.

Ballots were sent to voters on March 12. As of Wednesday, voters had already returned 11,642 ballots by mail and via the city’s 18 secure drop boxes. The final day to vote is April 2.

It’s also possible to vote via email, fax or a temporary address. In order to do that, voters must to complete an application with the municipal clerk’s office by March 26 at 5 p.m. There are more details on the city’s elections website.

Voters can find out when their ballot is received and counted by signing up for automatic alerts at

With 10 mayoral candidates on the ballot, it’s likely there will be a runoff election this year. If a candidate does not receive more than 45% of the vote in the regular election, the top two vote-getters will advance to a runoff race.

The second round of ballots would be mailed to voters on April 30, and they would need to be returned or postmarked on or before May 14.

Correction: The final day to vote in the runoff election would be May 14, not May 15.

Emily Goodykoontz

Emily Goodykoontz is a reporter covering Anchorage local government and general assignments. She previously covered breaking news at The Oregonian in Portland before joining ADN in 2020. Contact her at