Voters line up to cast ballots early in Anchorage

Lisa Demer
Bill Roth

Eager voters were waiting outside the state Division of Elections office in Midtown Anchorage at 8 a.m. Sunday when regional elections supervisor Julie Husmann got to work.

She advised them to come back in a few hours: Early voting, which began Oct. 22, resumed at noon on Sunday. And by 11:15 a.m., people were lining up, just as they had on Saturday.

It was taking voters 45 minutes to an hour to get through the line, a bit longer than the day before. Some were voting early and others, who live outside Anchorage and the Mat-Su, were casting in-person absentee ballots.

"I think most people think it's an enormously important election," Anchorage voter Mark Erickson said early in the afternoon, waiting outside in the brisk sunshine.

Erickson, 59 and a psychiatrist, looked at the line stretching ahead of him. It didn't seem like a hassle, but rather a sign many in Alaska were serious about voting. "I'm delighted to see so many people here."

Some in the line said it was more convenient to vote on the weekend than during the work week. Some said they just wanted to make sure they got to cast their ballot. Some were headed out of town. Some made it a family outing with the kids. Some used walkers or canes to get to the building.

"I always try to vote early to avoid lines," Jason Norris, 33, said. "But it is good to see a good turnout. It's an important election at all levels."

On Saturday, more than 1,000 people cast early votes in Anchorage, and another 100 or so voted absentee, Husmann said. Statewide, more than 13,000 voted early as of Friday afternoon. That number appeared lower than four years ago, elections officials have said. In 2008, the Alaska ballot had a hotly contested U.S. Senate race and Gov. Sarah Palin was running for vice president.

Still, in Anchorage, the parking lots around the elections office at 2525 Gambell Street were filling up. Once voters got inside the building, the line snaked through a big room where orange cones stamped "Elections Dept." designated where to go. From there the line went down the hall, and then to the room where people could vote.

Posted signs told voters what kind of identification is required in Alaska: voter card, driver's license, birth certificate, passport, military ID, state ID, hunting or fishing license, current utility bill, or a paycheck. Husmann said voters generally had what they needed. Those who live in the region then simply sign a statement and their vote is placed directly into a ballot box.

The early votes will be counted on Election Night, she said, while the in-person absentees cast by people from outside the region will be reviewed and counted with other absentees in the days after the election.

Early voting continues Monday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. both at the Midtown elections office and City Hall downtown. On Election Day, voters can cast their ballots at the elections office from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. or at City Hall from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., or at their designated polling place.


Reach Lisa Demer at or 257-4390.



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