Alaska polls busy on Election Day

November 4, 2008 

The Division of Elections reports steady lines of voters at polling places across Alaska but no sign yet of record-breaking numbers.

In the 2004 presidential election, 67 percent of eligible Alaskans voted, said Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai.

"I think we could see in the 60s again. I was hoping for higher, but we planned adequately; we have plenty of ballots for precincts," she said.

Turnout in some regions had already hit 25 percent by noon, Fenumiai said. The polls close at 8 p.m., when anyone who is in line to vote will still be able to cast their ballot.

Alaska has same-day registration during presidential elections. Voters who missed the Oct. 5 voter registration deadline may still vote for president and vice president. Voters who did not register in time may vote a questioned ballot at any polling place or may vote an absentee ballot at any absentee voting location, according to the elections division.

For more election information, including how to find your polling place, go to the division's Web site or call 1-888-383-8683 or 269-8683.

Election results will start showing up soon after the polls close but, tens of thousands of votes won't be counted until later and won't appear in tonight's preliminary results.

Those include:

- Roughly 40,000 absentee ballots, with more expected to arrive in the mail.

- About 9,000 of the 23,000 ballots cast by early voters. (In most parts of the state, if you cast an early vote before Thursday, it will appear in tonight's numbers.)

- Thousands of questioned ballots.

Certain ballots, such as absentee votes that people mail in, are always counted after Election Day.

But after 26 people voted twice in the August primary election, the Division of Elections decided to wait to count all absentee ballots in order to make sure no one was voting absentee, then showing up on Election Day to vote again.

The division has up to 15 days after the election to double-check and tally all the various ballots before announcing the final count.

"It's the only way the division, at this point in time with our current voter registration system, can ensure that there's been no duplicate voting," she said.

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