Turnout low ahead of high-stakes Anchorage municipal election on Tuesday

Tuesday is the last day to vote in the Anchorage city election, and so far, voter turnout this year is lower than in 2022.

Voters will elect seven of 12 Assembly members, two school board members and decide fourteen ballot propositions, including a school bond and a proposal to dedicate marijuana tax revenue to early childhood education and child care.

Just over 235,560 voters were registered in Anchorage as of March 5. By Friday, the elections center had received just over 28,400 ballot envelopes — 17% less than last year’s count of 34,250 on the Friday before election day. Voter turnout so far is down compared to the last five regular city elections, since Anchorage began using the vote-by-mail system in 2018. Typically, mayoral races draw a higher turnout, but this year’s numbers so far are markedly lower than the last two Assembly races.

More ballots are continuing to arrive at the elections center by mail. As of Monday afternoon, about another 1,800 had come in by mail, and more will continue to arrive over the next few weeks.

On Monday afternoon in the elections center, officials were beginning to sort a few thousand more that had been picked up from drop boxes Monday morning. The clerk’s office did not yet have estimates for how many had arrived by drop box or been cast in-person over the weekend and on Monday.

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Ballot envelopes must be postmarked by Tuesday to be counted, or dropped off at one of the city’s 18 secure drop boxes by 8 p.m. Voters can also cast a ballot in-person at one of the city’s three vote centers.


What’s at stake

Voters in East Anchorage will elect two new Assembly members. The city’s five other districts — North Anchorage, West Anchorage, Midtown, South Anchorage and Eagle River/Chugiak — will each choose one member. Assembly Vice Chair Chris Constant of North Anchorage and member Felix Rivera of Midtown are the only two incumbents running to keep their seats this year. That means the city will have at least five new Assembly members when results are certified later this month.

In the Anchorage School Board races, two incumbents are each facing a challenger for the two seats up for grabs.

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City elections are nonpartisan, so candidates don’t run with an official political party affiliation, but candidates largely have associated themselves with more conservative, independent or progressive viewpoints.

Newly elected Assembly members will enter an arena that’s been fraught with distrust and hostility between the moderate-to-progressive Assembly majority and Mayor Dave Bronson, a conservative, and recent volatility within his administration.

Given that discord, several more conservative candidates have attempted to distance their campaigns from the mayor, while those more aligned with the Assembly’s current majority are also attempting to strike a careful balance in their messaging to voters, saying they will leave bitterness behind and work to move the city forward.

Candidates across the spectrum say that voters are tired of political toxicity and want to elect leaders who will focus on solutions.

When to expect results

The city clerk expects to release a preliminary tally of election results after 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Those results will not be final, as ballots will continue to arrive at the elections center by mail after election day, and those cast in-person or placed in drop boxes Tuesday likely won’t be included in Tuesday’s tally.

The tallies will continue to change, and the elections center will post updated preliminary results as more ballots are counted over the coming two weeks.

Ballots have until the Public Session of Canvass on April 20 to be counted. Certification of election results by the Assembly is scheduled for April 25, according to the city’s election calendar.

How to get your vote in on time

Voters who plan to mail their ballot on Tuesday should ask a postal worker to “hand cancel” or hand stamp the envelope in order for their ballot to be counted. The city’s 18 secure drop boxes are also available for ballot drop off up until 8 p.m. Those locations are listed on the municipality’s elections website.

The city’s three vote centers will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Those locations are:

• Anchorage City Hall, 632 W. Sixth Ave., Room 105.

• Loussac Library, 3600 Denali St., in the Assembly chambers.

• Eagle River Town Center, 12001 Business Blvd., Community Room 170. This vote center is in the same building as the library, and only has Chugiak-Eagle River ballots.

For more information on the candidates, check out our Assembly and school board candidate Q&As, which allow side-by-side comparisons on specific questions and issues.

The city elections website also has a FAQ, a list of candidates and a list of ballot propositions.

Emily Goodykoontz

Emily Goodykoontz is a reporter covering Anchorage local government and general assignments. She previously covered breaking news at The Oregonian in Portland before joining ADN in 2020. Contact her at