The final results are in for Anchorage’s vote-by-mail election.
Voters rejected a local alcohol tax, with 54% opposed to it and 46% in favor. They elected a substantial Anchorage Assembly majority that is generally aligned with Mayor Ethan Berkowitz. They sent political newcomer Margo Bellamy and incumbent Starr Marsett to the Anchorage School Board.
A majority of voters also said yes to nearly all of the bonds, including a $59.1 million school bond package. They approved a proposition to make it easier for the city to negotiate lease-to-own agreements for rented real estate like City Hall, as well as one that will expand the enforcement of laws related to junk and abandoned vehicles.
The 11-member Anchorage Assembly certified the election results at its Tuesday evening meeting and welcomed the newly elected Crystal Kennedy, Kameron Perez-Verdia and Meg Zaletel to the governing body. Assemblymen John Weddleton and Forrest Dunbar ran unopposed this year and sailed to victory.
Also Tuesday, the Assembly selected Felix Rivera as its new chair and Suzanne LaFrance as its new vice chair.
With 65,100 ballots cast in this year’s election, the final voter turnout was 28.65%, according to the Anchorage clerk’s office. That’s higher than the turnout in the past two non-mayoral elections at 23.2% in 2017 and 24.77% in 2016. But it’s lower than the turnout in last year’s mayoral election at 36.31% — a record for a regular municipal election.
The preliminary costs for this year’s election total $646,230, down from $944,000 for Anchorage’s first vote-by-mail election last year, according to the clerk’s office. The 2017 poll-based election cost $670,000.
“We followed the Assembly’s direction to monitor costs and I think we did that,” said Anchorage Municipal Clerk Barbara Jones.
Election officials had about 1,458 challenged ballots this year, Jones said. They sent letters to hundreds of voters and worked with the state of Alaska to correct signatures and other issues.
By the end, officials returned 20 ballots and rejected 822 ballots, most often because the voter failed to provide identifying information or the envelope was postmarked after Election Day, April 2, or there was no signature match on the return envelope, the clerk’s office said.
Check the final vote count here.