The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into the Recall Dunleavy campaign’s signature-gathering effort, forcing the group to shift gears and use alternative methods to reach the 71,252 signatures needed to call a special election.
First the group shifted to a by-mail petition process, sending out more than 20,000 packets as of earlier this month, and now it’s announced opportunities to sign via drive-thru. The campaign announced it will be holding drive-thru signing events this weekend in Fairbanks and Anchorage, with the possibility of more later this summer.
“This method of signature collection is unprecedented in the United States right now,” said Claire Pywell, the campaign’s manager, in a prepared statement. “After winning in Alaska’s Supreme Court in early May, Alaskans supporting the recall of Governor Dunleavy are newly determined to collect the remaining signatures we need, as quickly as possible.”
The announcement says that volunteers will be wearing personal protective equipment to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 at the drive-thru events. The details of the events are as follows:
FAIRBANKS DRIVE-THROUGH SIGNATURE EVENT
- Where: Former Sports Authority Parking Lot (391 Merhar Avenue, Fairbanks, AK 99701)
- When: Friday, May 29 (4pm-7pm), Saturday, May 30 (10am-5pm), and Sunday, May 31 (12pm-5pm)
ANCHORAGE DRIVE-THROUGH SIGNATURE EVENT
- Where: Across from former Johnson’s Tire Service, 3333 Denali Street, Midtown Anchorage
- When: Saturday, May 30 (10am-7pm) and Saturday, May 31 (10am-7pm)
Other areas of the state, including Juneau, will still need to find other ways to sign, at least for now.
Pywell told the Juneau Empire that there’s nothing in the plans now but that could change.
“That doesn’t mean we wouldn’t consider doing that in the future,” said Claire Pywell, campaign manager for Recall Dunleavy. “We’re trying these out. We try to defer to folks on the ground.”
The group has hit about half the signatures needed to trigger a recall election, which at this point would likely appear on either the primary or general election ballot. If the group submits its signatures later in the summer, it could be pushed to a winter or spring special election.
Why it matters
The pandemic put a damper on just about everything in Alaska politics, killing a lot of the momentum the effort had following last summer’s incredible turnout and legal victories in January. Much of what fueled the early enthusiasm such as the governor’s vetoes have garnered far less attention this time around but as things start to reopen and get back to “normal,” there’s going to be more room in the headlines for the Recall campaign to win back attention.