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City prepares for special election in recall of Anchorage Assembly member Meg Zaletel

The deadline to register to vote is this Sunday
Anchorage votes graphic.
Anchorage votes graphic.(KTUU)
Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 6:29 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Residents of Anchorage’s District 4 in Midtown will soon have the opportunity to determine whether or not Anchorage Assembly member Meg Zaletel will continue in her current elected role.

A special election is set for Tuesday, Oct. 26 to decide the outcome of an effort to recall Zaletel, and is considered a vote at home/vote by mail election. This means that every registered or qualified voter will receive a ballot package in the mail at least 21 days before election day. These same packages were mailed to military and overseas voters last week, according to a press release from the Municipal Clerk’s Office.

This process proceeded forward on Aug. 27 when the assembly approved the Municipal Clerk’s Office’s certification of the petition to recall Zaletel. Two petitions were initially filed to recall the assembly member, but after a back-and-forth through Alaska’s court system, one was approved to go forward.

Russell Biggs, an Anchorage resident who initiated both original petitions last year, claimed Zaletel violated city mitigation orders in 2020 when participating in a meeting that had more than 15 people in attendance.

Other voting options for the upcoming special election include the use of seven secure drop boxes which will be placed throughout Assembly District 4, according to Municipal Clerk Barbara Jones. The Loussac Library will also serve as a daily vote center for in-person voting from Monday, Oct. 18 through Tuesday, Oct. 26, the day of the election.

For security purposes, the election center does not connect its servers and computers that handle ballots directly to the internet. During a media availability on Wednesday, Deputy Municipal Clerk for Elections Erika McConnell shared details about why they attempt a robust operation in order to prevent mistakes and potentially any outside attempts of fraud or cyber hacking.

“Elections are the cornerstone of our democracy,” she said. “Elections have to be perfect because everybody who is eligible to vote and desires to vote, their vote needs to be counted. We have to make sure all of the details are perfect here as we run the election so we can assure that the will of the voters of Anchorage is effectuated.”

“We have checks and balances in place and very specific procedures to ensure that we make zero mistakes.” McConnell continued. “We’re human. We all do the best we can and mistakes can happen but we are so careful to make sure we are doing everything properly because this is so important to everyone in our community.”

Voters may also visit muni.org/assemblymap to search and confirm whether or not they live in District 4. The deadline to register to vote is this Sunday, Sept. 26. Voter registration applications are available online at voterregistration.alaska.gov.

The Municipal Clerk’s Office also suggests making a voting plan, as ballot envelopes must returned to a secure drop box or the Anchorage Vote Center at the Loussac Library no later than 8 p.m. on election day.

Mailed ballot envelopes must be postmarked no later than election day as well. Applications to vote at a temporary address or by email or fax must be completed by 5 p.m. one week before election day. These applications can be found on the city’s website under the elections section or by contacting elections@anchorageak.gov or the voter hotline at (907) 243-8683.

Zaletel praised the election officials and shared her confidence in the electoral process via phone on Wednesday, though she said she is disappointed that a recall is happening.

“I have full faith in the Municipal Clerk’s Office to administer a fair election,” Zaletel said.

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