Many Alaska voters will receive absentee ballots in the mail this week.
On Monday, the Alaska Division of Elections delivered 81,681 sealed envelopes to the U.S. Postal Service for final delivery. The Postal Service has said that its goal is to deliver ballots to voters within the United States in one week or less.
Alaska recorded a record-high number of new COVID-19 cases on Monday, and as the pandemic continues, more Alaskans than ever are interested in methods of voting that don’t involve going to the polls on Election Day.
Four years ago, 321,271 Alaskans voted in the general election. Through 8 a.m. Monday, at least 97,472 Alaskans have applied to vote absentee this year, and 2,965 completed ballots have already been returned to the Alaska Division of Elections. (Absentee ballots were sent last month to members of the military, military families and Alaskans living overseas.)
Thirty-five percent of registered Democrats have signed up to vote absentee, 17% of registered Republicans have done so, and 13% of registered independents (undeclared and nonpartisan voters) have requested absentee ballots.
In-person voting begins Oct. 19 at selected sites across the state.
The deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail is Oct. 24, but the U.S. Postal Service recommends requesting a ballot no later than Oct. 20.
Both the Postal Service and Division of Elections recommend filling out and returning absentee ballots as soon as possible.
Ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day to be counted, and not all ballots mailed outside Anchorage are postmarked on the same day that they are mailed.
Absentee ballots are not counted by the state until at least one week after Election Day, meaning many elections will not be decided immediately.