Alaskans who want to cast a ballot in the Nov. 8 general election will need to register to vote, or update their registrations if they’ve recently moved, by midnight at the end of the day Sunday.
Registering to vote can be done online at the Division of Elections website, elections.alaska.gov, or in person at the division’s regional offices. Paper registration forms can be mailed to those same offices, emailed to the division or printed out and faxed.
Sample general election ballots are available online, showing who Alaskans will be voting for this November:
• Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy is running for a second four-year term against independent former Gov. Bill Walker, Democratic former state legislator Les Gara and Republican former Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce, who has been largely absent from the campaign trail after a “credible” harassment allegation was brought against him.
• Sen. Lisa Murkowski is running for a fourth full six-year term in the U.S. Senate and is being challenged by fellow Republican Kelly Tshibaka, Democrat Pat Chesbro and Republican Buzz Kelley, who suspended his campaign and endorsed Tshibaka. His name will still appear on the ballot.
• Democratic U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola won the special election to serve out the remainder of the late Rep. Don Young’s term. In the November election, she’s seeking a full two-year term in the U.S. House and is running against Republican former Gov. Sarah Palin, Republican Nicholas Begich III and Libertarian Chris Bye.
• Fifty-nine of 60 legislative seats will be on the ballot due to redistricting changing electoral boundaries. State Sen. Donny Olson, D-Golovin, is the only state lawmaker not required to run.
• Twenty-nine state judges will be up for a retention vote, including one judge from the Alaska Court of Appeals who will appear on ballots statewide.
• Alaskans will be asked if there shall be a state constitutional convention, a question that appears on the ballot every 10 years. Supporters have focused on resolving the debates over the Permanent Fund dividend while opponents have said a convention is unpredictable and risks opening “Pandora’s box.”
Because of redistricting earlier this year, Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai said Alaskans should check their precincts to ensure they’re heading to the right place to cast a ballot.
“For those people who didn’t vote in the primary election, they may have a new polling place based on where they voted in 2020,” she said.
Alaskans will use ranked choice voting in November for the second time after the special congressional election in August. There were few issues reported with the new system, but the Division of Elections is ramping up its voter education campaign.
Under the state’s new voting system, if no candidate gets more than half the first-choice votes, the last-place candidate is eliminated and their votes are redistributed to the other candidates based on their supporters’ second-choice votes. That process is repeated until one candidate has a clear majority.
Fenumiai said registered Alaska voters should expect to see ranked-choice mailers soon. The division also launched a media campaign Wednesday, including television advertisements that describe five tips for how to rank candidates successfully.
The state’s official election pamphlet is set to start being mailed out next week, with biographies of each of the candidates and a detailed guide on how to vote. Candidate information is also available online at the division’s website.
Absentee, special needs voting
All registered Alaska voters received by-mail ballots for the special U.S. House primary election in June, but that won’t happen again automatically for November’s general election.
The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot, which can be done in Alaska for any reason, is Oct. 29. That can be done online, in person, by fax or by mail. The first set of absentee ballots was mailed to overseas and military voters in September, and they are set to start being mailed to Alaska-based voters next week.
After thousands of by-mail ballots were rejected for the special U.S. House primary, the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska joined two other civil rights law firms in suing the state of Alaska over the lack of a process to fix errors with absentee ballots. A trial date has not been set before the election.
The division describes how voters need to have identification information on their ballot envelope, a witness watch them sign the envelope, and then have the witness sign it themselves. But Alaska does not have a ballot curing process, which allows voters to fix errors with by-mail ballots before Election Day to ensure their vote counts.
“Nearly half of the states in the country, and the Municipality of Anchorage, have secure elections with a codified process to ensure that the voices of voters are not silenced for a clerical error,” said Megan Edge, a spokesperson for the ACLU of Alaska. “There is no reason the State of Alaska can’t follow this course of action. We will continue to fight to make sure all votes count after the November election.”
By-mail ballots need to be postmarked on or before Election Day to be counted. Fenumiai encouraged absentee voters to get their ballots back as quickly as possible after receiving them and to get them hand stamped in a post office if they’re being sent back to the division by mail.
The division has instructions online for special needs voting for Alaskans who can’t visit a polling place themselves due to age, illness or disability.
Early voting and when to expect results
Early in-person voting will begin Oct. 24. The Division of Elections lists early-voting locations in Anchorage, Wasilla, Nome, Fairbanks and Juneau, but more will be announced closer to November.
Alaskans can also request a ballot to be delivered electronically, starting Oct. 24. The ballots can then be printed out, and returned by mail or by fax.
Nov. 8 is Election Day and polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Voters’ first choices will be tabulated and announced that night, but the division decided to only do the ranked-choice tabulation process once it had received all absentee ballots, which can arrive at the division 15 days after the election.
Meaning, like the special congressional election in August, Alaskans will need to wait more than two weeks for complete and definitive results from the general election.