Ballot returns in Anchorage mayoral runoff are on pace with recent elections

Anchorage voters have until Tuesday at 8 p.m. to cast ballots in the mayoral runoff race between incumbent Mayor Dave Bronson and challenger Suzanne LaFrance, former chair of the Assembly.

The candidates emerged as the top-two vote-getters in the April 2 contest, advancing to a head-to-head runoff that has played out the last several weeks.

The Bronson and LaFrance campaigns both spent the weekend door-knocking in neighborhoods across the municipality, and are continuing to campaign with sign-waving and phone-banking efforts to get out the vote as the deadline to return ballots closes in.

Early data shows that voter turnout is on pace with other recent mayoral elections.

As of Friday, the city’s election center had already received and sorted a total of 41,125 ballots. On Monday, election staff were working to process thousands more ballots that voters had returned by mail, in drop boxes and at vote centers over the weekend.

As of 1 p.m. Monday, election staff had sorted an additional 5,700 ballots, and thousands more sat in large black duffel bags awaiting sorting.

It’s likely between 10,000 and 15,000 were returned this weekend, according to Acting Election Administrator William Northrop.


“I’m optimistic that turnout is high,” Northrop said. “Right now we are outpacing the regular election.”

About 4,550 more ballots had been returned by Friday than on the Friday before the April regular election. Ultimately 72,250 ballots were cast in that election.

The 2021 runoff between Bronson and then-Assembly member Forrest Dunbar saw record-high turnout for a mayoral contest, with 90,816 ballots cast in a race Bronson won by 1,193 votes. In the 2015 runoff won by Ethan Berkowitz over then-Assembly member Amy Demboski, 70,650 residents voted.

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Election staff are anticipating the biggest wave of voting on Tuesday, the final day to vote.

“If it’s anything like the 2021 runoff, we are going to be looking at 20,000 (ballots) for election night alone,” Northrop said.

[Anchorage’s mayoral runoff election ends Tuesday. Here’s how to return your ballot.]

Northrop said that Tuesday evening’s preliminary election results will likely include all ballots received at the election center through Monday, and possibly some gathered by election workers from drop boxes and vote centers early Tuesday.

That means a large enough share of the ballot totals will likely be processed in those preliminary results to give campaigns and officials a solid picture of which candidate is ahead, unless it’s a thin margin of a few thousand votes or less separating them. As ballots continue to be received and tallied in the days after Tuesday, margins typically tick up and down slightly, but they are rarely upended. However, if the results are close — as was the case in the 2021 election between Bronson and Dunbar — it is possible for a candidate who is slightly behind in the initial count to edge into the lead.

Neither campaign is likely to declare victory based on Tuesday night’s preliminary results.

[Anchorage’s mayoral runoff election will come down to turnout]

Election staff will publish the first preliminary election results after 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

Then this week starting Wednesday, they will post updated results daily by about 6:30 p.m. as staff continue to process the ballots cast on Tuesday and as more arrive by mail.

Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked by Tuesday in order to count. Anyone who is mailing their ballot on Monday or Tuesday should go inside the post office and ask a postal worker to hand cancel, or hand stamp, their ballot envelope, Northrop said.

Voters using drop boxes must place their ballot into a drop box by 8 p.m., he said.

In the April election, “we did have a lot of voters who waited to the last minute and also after the election to get us their ballot. Unfortunately, those don’t count. We need them postmarked by election night,” Northrop said.

Also, anyone casting a ballot in person at a vote center late Tuesday needs to be in line by 8 p.m. in order to vote, he said.

Anchorage’s three vote centers are located downtown at City Hall, in Midtown at the Loussac Library, and in Eagle River at the Eagle River Town Center. Vote centers open at 7 a.m. Tuesday and will close at 8 p.m.


Registered voters who did not receive a ballot in the mail or whose ballot was lost, damaged or stolen can go to a vote center to get a replacement ballot.

The runoff election results won’t be official until they are certified by the Anchorage Assembly. Certification is scheduled for May 31, according to the city’s election calendar.

Whoever is elected will officially begin the three-year term as mayor on July 1.

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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

Zachariah Hughes

Zachariah Hughes covers Anchorage government, the military, dog mushing, subsistence issues and general assignments for the Anchorage Daily News. He also helps produce the ADN's weekly politics podcast. Prior to joining the ADN, he worked in Alaska’s public radio network, and got his start in journalism at KNOM in Nome.