Politics

Early voting begins in Alaska cities ahead of Aug. 16 election

election, U.S. House, vote, voting

Early voting opened Monday ahead of the Aug. 16 primary and special U.S. House general elections.

The special U.S. House general election will be the first in Alaska determined by ranked choice voting after Alaskans adopted new election rules in 2020. Three candidates are vying for the seat: Republican Nick Begich III, Republican Sarah Palin and Democrat Mary Peltola. The special election will determine who serves out the rest of U.S. Rep. Don Young’s term as Alaska’s lone U.S. House member, after Young died unexpectedly in March.

All three candidates are also running in the regular primary election for the following two-year U.S. House term that begins in January. They are joined by several other contenders, including Republican Tara Sweeney, who finished fifth in the special primary election in June.

The upcoming primary races will also narrow the fields in the U.S. Senate and governor’s races. In the Senate race, Republican incumbent Lisa Murkowski is facing challenges from conservative Republican Kelly Tshibaka, Democrat Pat Chesbro and several others. In the governor’s race, incumbent Gov. Mike Dunleavy is facing challenges from independent former Gov. Bill Walker, Democratic former state lawmaker Les Gara, Republican state Rep. Christopher Kurka, and Republican Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce, among others.

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The top four vote getters in the primary will advance to the November election. Voters will also be asked to pick candidates for 59 of 60 state legislative seats, but in all but one of those races, there are four or fewer candidates. That means the vast majority of primary candidates in those races will advance to the general election.

Both the pick-one primary races and the ranked-choice U.S. House special general election will appear on the same August ballot.

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Voting early or by mail

Early voting began Monday with polling places in Palmer, Wasilla, Eagle River, Fairbanks, Soldotna, Homer, Juneau and Nome. In Anchorage, early voting is available Monday-Friday at City Hall downtown and seven days a week at the regional elections office, 2525 Gambell St. Absentee in-person voting is also available in dozens of other communities, allowing voters to fill out an absentee ballot and cast their vote in person.

More information about early and absentee in-person voting locations, along with their hours of operation, is available at the Division of Elections website.

Unlike the special U.S. House primary held in June, the Aug. 16 election is not a by-mail election, so registered voters will not automatically receive a paper ballot by mail. Alaskans who want to vote by mail must request a paper ballot by Saturday.

With voting beginning, U.S. House candidates are swinging through Alaska. Palin, Begich and Peltola met for a forum in Juneau on Monday, and other forums are scheduled in Kenai and Fairbanks ahead of the primary.

Iris Samuels

Iris Samuels is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News focusing on state politics. She previously covered Montana for The Associated Press and wrote for the Kodiak Daily Mirror. Contact her at isamuels@adn.com.

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