Update: We’ve posted a new story with results here.
Saturday is the last day for Alaska voters to cast their ballots in the special 48-person U.S. House primary election that will narrow down to four the field of candidates to fill out the remaining term of the state’s lone seat in the U.S. House. The first round of results are expected to be posted by 9 p.m., with additional updates on June 15, 17 and 21. Check back for more updates through the afternoon and evening Sunday.
Update 8 p.m.:
Polls are now closed.
The Alaska Division of Elections has said it expects to post partial results tonight between 8:30 and 9 p.m. Additional updates are scheduled for June 15, 17 and 21, with the election expected to be certified on June 25. The top four finishers advance to the rank choice election on Aug. 16.
Quiet day of campaigning
Update, 5 p.m.:
With three hours until voting ends, it’s been a relatively quiet day for campaigning across the state as Alaska’s candidates for U.S. House make their last pitches for votes in Saturday’s special election to replace the late GOP Rep. Don Young.
No candidates have announced public, Election Night celebrations. But several made public appearances Saturday.
Republican Tara Sweeney spent time at Anchorage farmers markets. Former Gov. Sarah Palin and entrepreneur Nick Begich III, both Republican front-runners, participated in the Colony Days festival in the Mat-Su.
Independent Al Gross, another front-runner, was planning to be in Juneau on Election Day before spending the evening in his hometown of Petersburg, his spokeswoman said.
Democrat Chris Constant embodied the low-key Election Day ethos: Reached by phone Saturday afternoon, he was at home making last-minute calls to voters after hitting the gym and watering his lawn.
“Taking care of my mental and physical health, while we wait,” he said.
Constant and other candidates and aides said this week that they’re looking forward to finally getting hard data on who voters support when the state counts the first batch of votes Saturday night. With 48 candidates in the field in this special primary election, few are trusting the polls that have been released so far.
“Anybody that says they have an idea of what’s happening is selling you a bill of goods,” Constant said. “Any poll has a three-point margin of error. You have 48 candidates — spread that across all of those candidates and tell me about how you’re going to come up with anything conclusive.”
State election officials said they’d received nearly 130,000 ballots by Friday night. But they said this week that it’s unlikely they’ll count more than half in the initial tally Saturday — the first results from which are expected by 9 p.m.
Second and third rounds of counting are planned for Wednesday and Friday, with a final one the following week.
— Nathaniel Herz
What to know on the final day of voting
Update, 3:20 p.m.:
Saturday is the last day for Alaska voters to cast their ballots in the special 48-person U.S. House primary election that will narrow down to four the field of candidates for the state’s lone seat in Congress.
Some last-minute uncertainty was resolved Saturday when the Alaska Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling that could have delayed certification of the election. The Alaska State Commission for Human Rights had sued the Division of Elections to ensure visually impaired voters were given adequate voting access.
More than 120,000 votes had been cast as of Friday in Alaska’s first by-mail election. The Division of Elections mailed out more than a half-million ballots, and voters can still return those ballots to local post offices — as long as they are postmarked on Saturday — or vote in person at a handful of locations throughout the state. Voters can also drop off completed mail-in ballots at Division of Elections offices on Saturday.
The race is the first under Alaska’s new election rules that did away with partisan primaries, meaning all voters have received ballots with 48 names, including six Democrats, 16 Republicans, 22 nonpartisan or undeclared, two Libertarians, an American Independent Party member and an Alaskan Independence Party member.
The top four vote-getters will advance to the Aug. 16 general election to determine who fills out the rest of the late GOP U.S. Rep. Don Young’s term. A separate election will be held for the next term, with a primary on the same August day and the top four candidates advancing to the general election in November.
State election offices will begin counting a portion of the ballots they’ve received once the last voting places close at 8 p.m. Saturday. They are expected to release preliminary results by 9 p.m. But the final results of the two-month campaign won’t be known until June 21, when the last count is scheduled to be released.
The primary will eliminate more than 90% of the candidates seeking to become Alaska’s first new member of Congress since 1973. That’s when Young, who died in office in March, was first elected.
How to vote
Officials say the best way to ensure votes are counted at this point is to return completed ballots at an in-person voting location, where elections workers will stamp them. Alternatively, you can go to the post office and ask a worker to postmark your ballot, as opposed to leaving it in a collection box that may not be opened in time.
There are some 20 in-person voting sites across the state that will be open Saturday.
They are in Anchorage, Birch Creek, Cordova, Fairbanks, Hollis, Hydaburg, Hyder, Juneau, Klukwan, Naukati, Nome, Port Protection, Seward, Soldotna, Thorne Bay, Talkeetna, Tenakee Springs, Trapper Creek, Wasilla and Wrangell. A full list, with addresses, is available here.
— Iris Samuels and Nathaniel Herz