Alaska in Brief

For some Alaskans, it may be too late to vote without extra steps

By: - June 8, 2022 6:57 pm
A voter holds a ballot above a postal collection box, May 16, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Andrew Kitchenman/Alaska Beacon)

A voter holds a ballot above a postal collection box, May 16, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Andrew Kitchenman/Alaska Beacon)

Election day is Saturday for the special primary that will be the first step in temporarily replacing Congressman Don Young, who died in March.

More than 119,000 people have already voted in what will be Alaska’s first statewide election by mail, but given the short time left to vote, Alaskans who haven’t yet mailed their ballots may need to take extra steps.

That’s because state law requires mailed ballots to be postmarked on or before election day, and most mail isn’t automatically postmarked locally.

In Alaska, mail from zip codes beginning 995 through 997 — everything from Yakutat west — is postmarked in Anchorage. Mail accepted in zip codes beginning with 998 through 999 — southeast Alaska — is postmarked in Juneau, said James Boxrud, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service’s western area.

“The Postal Service’s general recommendation is that, as a common-sense measure, voters should mail completed ballots before election day, and at least one week before the deadline by which their completed ballot must be received by their local election official,” Boxrud said.

Ballots for the special U.S. House election can be received as late as 10 days after election day, but only if they’re postmarked on or before election day. 

A sure-fire way to get the postmark on time is to take a ballot into a post office and have staff hand-cancel it. That’s an option “at all Alaska retail sites,” Boxrud said.

Another option is to avoid the mail entirely. Ballots can be delivered to any of the state’s many absentee and early voting sites, said Tiffany Montemayor, a spokeswoman for the Division of Elections. 

Anyone who’s lost their ballot or otherwise hasn’t voted already can also vote in those locations.

Ballots can also be dropped off in the Municipality of Anchorage’s election dropboxes, but Montemayor and the Division of Elections aren’t recommending that. 

Because election day falls on a Saturday, the options for voting in person or by mail on election day itself will be more limited than they are now. 

Most absentee-voting locations on the state’s list will be closed, and post-office hours are limited. 

In addition, the Division of Elections is reminding voters to make sure they have a second person witness and sign the envelopes of mailed-in ballots. Votes without a second signature will not be counted. 

There are 48 candidates on the ballot, and each voter is being asked to pick one. The top four vote-getters advance to the Aug. 16 special general election.

The first round of results will be published by the Division of Elections late Saturday, with counting beginning at 8 p.m.

A second batch of results will be added to the tally on Wednesday, June 15, and a third batch will be added June 17. The final unofficial tally will be announced June 21.

The division has tentatively scheduled June 25 as the date for the final certified result, but on Wednesday, a lawsuit challenged that schedule, saying that election procedures may be disenfranchising blind voters and others with limited vision. The effect of that case has not been determined.

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James Brooks
James Brooks

James Brooks is a longtime Alaska reporter, having previously worked at the Anchorage Daily News, Juneau Empire, Kodiak Mirror and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. A graduate of Virginia Tech, he is married to Caitlyn Ellis, owns a house in Juneau and has a small sled dog named Barley. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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