Alaska News

High turnout in Anchorage’s first vote-by-mail election, with many ballots still to count

Voters waited until the final days of Anchorage's first-ever vote-by-mail election to deliver what was on track to be one of the highest turnouts in a local election.

Election officials counted just more than 50,000 ballots Tuesday night. At least an additional 16,000 more ballots had been received but had not yet been counted, officials said.

Meanwhile, there was an unknown number still on the way, with mailed and absentee ballots expected to trickle in the rest of the week. Elections officials expected to post updated results starting Wednesday. The election will be certified April 17.

Early results were announced even as voters had a few more hours to postmark a ballot.

The highest turnout in an Anchorage election came in 2012, which was also a mayoral election year and had a contentious measure around LGBT rights. More than 71,000 people cast ballots.

It was a packed ballot this spring, including a mayoral race, a proposal to sell the city-owned electric utility and a contentious measure that would have rolled back legal protections for transgender people in restrooms, locker rooms and other facilities.

Officials had pitched the vote-by-mail election, also the first to be held in the state of Alaska, as a way to boost turnout while cutting costs.


The ballots that showed up in mailboxes around Anchorage the week of March 13 replaced the dozens of polling places that fanned out into neighborhood schools, churches and senior centers, staffed by poll workers.

There were mixed reviews among voters. Some people loved it. Others didn't trust the new system.

Devin Kelly

Devin Kelly was an ADN staff reporter.