The Point of View in the Aug. 4 Homer News by Edie Grunwald, who is running for Lt. Governor alongside Charlie Pierce for Governor, raises some questions. Ms. Grunwald claims that once she is in office the first thing she will do is address “election integrity.” I’m not clear what exactly that means, but I believe the statement itself sows more seeds of doubt and distrust in our election system which is so harmful and unnecessary.
As part of her “election integrity” makeover, Ms. Grunwald wants to immediately begin to purge voter rolls. She states there are 35,000 false voter registrations. I wish she would cite where that number comes from and explain how that process would work. Her statements made me wonder if she knows that the Lt. Governor cannot arbitrarily change laws.
This past legislative session several election bills moved through committees, many hearings were held, often with Gail Fenumiai, the Director of the Division of Elections, and state lawyers, in attendance to answer questions. I listened to some of these hearings and found them all very informative. Gail has the utmost intelligence and integrity. House Bill 66 was one of the better election bills moving through and almost passed, but sadly the session ended with prioritizing Alaska Permanent Fund dividend issues and HB 66 died.
HB 66 addressed the voter rolls and ballot curing, the process of informing those who vote by mail that there was an error on their ballot and allowing them to correct it and have their vote counted. Currently, voters are not informed that their mailed ballot was rejected until after the election. If you vote at a polling place, the ballot drop machine will tell the voter if there is an error on the ballot, giving the voter an opportunity to correct it there.
Our state elections are governed by statutes – laws — that are very explicit. You can read these at elections.alaska.gov under election resources. The Director of the Division of Elections has to follow these laws, and so does the Lt. Governor who cannot change the laws without legislation. Under the “Research” tab you can read about the state elections process and the lengths the State Election office goes to so votes are protected and secured. The state elections office is one of high integrity. I found Ms. Grunwald’s piece shy of important voting information and heavy with seeds of unwarranted election distrust.