As early voting begins in Alaska, some locations report long lines

Selected polling sites opened across Alaska Monday in the first day of early voting for the 2020 general election.

Interest in early voting is expected to be high this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the presidential election, and long lines were reported at some locations.

By 4 p.m. Monday, 3,259 Alaskans had voted at in-person early voting sites, said Gail Fenumiai, director of the Alaska Division of Elections. Four years ago, 39,242 Alaskans cast early votes during the entire 15-day early voting period. (Neither figure includes absentee ballots.)

In Anchorage, early voting is taking place at the Midtown Mall (600 E. Northern Lights Blvd.) and Anchorage City Hall (632 W. 6th Ave.) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through Nov. 2.

Some voters waited for more than an hour in line at Midtown Mall, while those who voted at City Hall said there was little or no line Monday.

The Midtown Mall and City Hall locations also have weekend hours. A full listing of early voting locations and their hours is available online.

Elections officials said there were notably long lines in Wasilla and Fairbanks. Palmer’s early voting site recorded a steady stream of voters. In Juneau, one early voting site was closed for the Alaska Day holiday; at the other, the line was not unusually long at 8:30 a.m.


[2020 Alaska election guide: Where to cast your ballot, how to make sure it’s counted and how to learn about the candidates and issues]

Voters will need to bring ID — a voter card, driver’s license, or other document that lists their name and address.

Any votes cast at early-voting sites through Oct. 29 will be counted on Election Day Nov. 3. All absentee ballots and early votes after Oct. 29 will be counted on Nov. 10 or afterward.

Through Friday morning, 32,741 Alaskans had filled out and returned absentee ballots. That’s more than 10% of the total turnout four years ago.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail is Saturday. Any Alaskan can request a blank absentee ballot for any reason, and an online form is available to request one.

Completed absentee ballots can be mailed back to the division, deposited into a dropbox or put into a ballot box at any early voting location.

Absentee ballots must be postmarked by Election Day in order to be counted.

Correction: The initial version of this article incorrectly said early voting was available at Cook Inlet Tribal Council. The council site offers in-person absentee voting, not early voting. In-person absentee ballots are not counted until seven days after Election Day.

James Brooks

James Brooks was a Juneau-based reporter for the ADN from 2018 to May 2022.