Opinions

Alaska election integrity key to trust in government

More than 30 years ago, President Ronald Reagan said that the nine most terrifying words in the English language were "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help." He was referring to the dawning of an age of an ever-expanding role of government. An age that has the government spending more money and controlling more of citizens' everyday lives.

There are functions of government that are constitutionally prescribed, and the issue isn't one of over-expansion, it is one of trust. Elections are one such function. If Alaskans are to have trust in their state government, they must have confidence in the integrity of the fundamental election process.

Alaska's Constitution gives the responsibility for running elections to the lieutenant governor. That's why I'm proud to be running for this important job alongside Mike Dunleavy, candidate for governor. Having each served in elected office at the local and state levels, we both know Alaskans deserve to have a government they can trust.

A disturbing pattern of election irregularities have undermined the public trust and this needs to change. The Division of Elections had more than its share of problems. People have begun to lose trust in the very system that allows their voice to be heard.

In 2016, in House District 40 (North Slope/Kotzebue), some voters were improperly given both Republican and Democrat ballots, leading to recounts and challenges that had to be eventually resolved by the Alaska Supreme Court weeks after the election. That same year, the division found its statewide voter database had been attacked by foreign hackers, possibly Russian agents. But the public and state legislators didn't find out until almost 18 months later, and Alaskans have yet to be provided sufficient assurance that future elections will be safe from this type of high-tech sabotage.

This year, over 80,000 Alaskans found they have been re-registered to vote in districts where they didn't live, due to the automatic voter registration initiative wisely was approved by the voters but poorly implemented. And now we've found out that Alaska has a 109 percent voter registration rate, meaning we have more registered voters than we have eligible residents.

In the East Anchorage August primary, 30 people – living in just two mobile homes – cast their absentee ballots uniformly for a single candidate. Two absentee votes were cast by people who denied ever applying, and seven applications were submitted on behalf of people who were dead. While the division caught these irregularities, we have heard nothing regarding the investigation or prosecution of those responsible for these crimes.

Lately, we have been told that the solution to low voter turnout is conducting statewide voting by mail, like the Municipality of Anchorage tried this year. Lost in the campaign rhetoric, however, is the fact that the cost of the election doubled. We are not ready to go with a mail-in ballot system until we solve the issues of an inaccurate voter database and by-mail absentee application irregularities. We must restore trust in our elections first.

As your next lieutenant governor, I will take my responsibility for managing elections seriously. I will appoint qualified, experienced professionals to staff the Division of Elections, and ensure workers around the state are well-trained and ready to conduct open and fair elections. I will respond promptly and decisively to any deviation from the law, from the smallest glitch in a voter's registration to the most direct attack on Alaska's election integrity.

Our state faces challenges – some simple, some frustratingly complex. Mike Dunleavy and I have faith in the wisdom of the Alaskan people to know what needs to be done, to select the right candidates to restore trust in our public institutions. Together we can put Alaska back on the right track. I invite you to join with us, and vote for Dunleavy/Meyer, on Nov. 6.

Sen. Kevin Meyer is a candidate for lieutenant governor running alongside gubernatorial candidate Mike Dunleavy. Since 2000, Meyer has served as a member in the Alaska Legislature, in both the House and Senate.

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Kevin Meyer

Kevin Meyer if Alaska's lieutenant governor and a former state senator.

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