A printer in Washington state on Tuesday mailed out nearly 200,000 ballots to Anchorage voters, kicking off a three-week marathon of voting in the local city election.
That's because Anchorage is holding its first-ever mail-ballot election this spring. It's also the first in Alaska, a test that has played out in other states over the years. Elections officials hope the new format will boost turnout and cut down election costs overall.
The last day to vote is April 3. Drop off a ballot in the mail box with a first-class stamp, or save on postage by bringing the ballot to a secure drop box in your area.
Ballots will feed into a scanner and two elections officials will check signatures against a database to verify identities.
Five accessible vote centers, for anyone who needs a replacement ballot or who wants to vote in person, will be open March 26.
How do you vote by mail? Here's a Q&A about it.
Here's an interactive map of drop boxes and accessible vote centers.
The ballots are relatively packed this year.
There are elections for mayor and Anchorage School Board; the possible sale of Anchorage's city-owned electric utility, ML&P; and propositions that deal with property taxes and regulating restrooms and other public accommodations by sex at birth. Other propositions deal with parking in Girdwood and fire response to Eagle River Valley.
Here's a quick guide to what's on the ballot.
In the mayoral race, Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz is seeking a second term. His lead challenger, based on fundraising data, is Rebecca Logan, the general manager of an oil, gas and mining industry association.
Seven other candidates are running: Dustin Darden, Timothy Huit, Paul Kendall, Matthew Mendonsa, Ron Stafford, Nelson Godoy and Jacob Kern.
The race is nonpartisan, though some candidates make a point of displaying party connections and party members get involved in campaigns.
The Anchorage Daily News asked the mayoral candidates a series of questions on issues facing the city.
Late last month, Berkowitz and Logan faced off on crime and taxes in the first major Anchorage mayoral forum. Berkowitz supports the ML&P sale and Prop. 11, which deals with property taxes; Logan does not.
Anchorage School Board
Three Anchorage School Board seats are in play this year. Board members are elected in city-wide nonpartisan races. There are a total of nine candidates.
— Seat E: Alisha Hilde, Tasha Hotch, David Nees, Don Smith, Ron Stafford
— Seat F: Phil Isley, Deena Mitchell
— Seat G: Elisa Snelling, Irene Weisman
Read what the candidates have to say on issues affecting the School Board.
Prop. 10: ML&P sale
The Berkowitz administration wants voter permission to sell the city-owned electric utility, Municipal Light & Power, to Chugach Electric Association.
A "yes" vote on Prop. 10 means that the city can start negotiating a sale document with Chugach Electric Association. That document will need to be OK'd by the Anchorage Assembly and the board of the Chugach Electric Association before being submitted to the Regulatory Commission of Alaska for final approval.
A "no" vote means the city will continue to own ML&P.
Prop. 1: Locker room, restroom regulation
This measure would allow the city of Anchorage and others providing public accommodations to regulate restrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms and other "intimate facilities" by sex at birth, instead of gender identity, effectively repealing part of a local non-discrimination law that has been in place since 2015.
Prop. 11: Property taxes
This proposition would allow homeowners to claim a higher property tax break for the home in which they live.
As a trade-off, property taxes would rise for commercial property and other types of property that don't qualify for the exemption, like apartment buildings and second homes.
Prop. 9: Girdwood parking
This measure would give Girdwood its own parking enforcement power, after Slush Cup 2017 turned the ski community to the south into a parking lot.
Prop. 12: Fire service area annexation
This measure asks whether Eagle River Valley should be included in Anchorage's fire service area. The measure needs to be passed by a majority of affected homeowners in the Eagle River Valley and a majority of voters in the existing Anchorage fire service area.
The measure means an immediate tax hike for Eagle River Valley residents but no change for residents in the existing service area.
Prop. 2-7: Bonds
The city and the Anchorage School District ask voters for permission each year to borrow money to pay for capital projects.
The Anchorage School District has asked for $50.6 million in capital improvements. The list of projects includes fire suppression systems and roof repairs for several different schools, and a range of upgrades at East Anchorage High School.
Here are samples of projects from the other bond packages:
The Loussac Library wants $500,000 for a digital security camera system, to be installed on each floor of the library. In the first half of 2017, there were double the number of trespasses and reports of theft and vandalism as the same period in 2016, according to a project fact sheet. Officials said it was not possible to provide security staffing to the entire building and cameras would help catch bad behavior.
The city parks and recreation bond includes $600,000 to redesign Town Square Park in downtown Anchorage. The city has been writing a new master plan for the park.
Road projects include $2 million to replace lights and light signals in the downtown area, and $300,000 to help with flooding in the Chester Creek basin. There's a number of projects to lessen street flooding after storms and some bike lane and pedestrian improvements.
Anchorage police want $800,000 for new boilers, valves and other building system controls at the APD Headquarters on Tudor Road.
A $200,000 public transportation bond includes a project to upgrade a People Mover bus stop on C Street near 15th Avenue.
Read more details on the bond projects on the city website.