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‘It’s really popular’: Early voting numbers are up in Alaska compared to previous elections for governor

  • Author: Tegan Hanlon
  • Updated: November 3, 2018
  • Published November 3, 2018

A line of voters snaked down the hallway at the Anchorage elections office shortly before 1 p.m. Saturday, more spilling into the vestibule.

Before the office even opened at 10 a.m., people stood outside the doors, waiting to cast their votes, said Julie Husmann, a regional supervisor with the Alaska Division of Elections.

"It's really popular," Husmann said about early voting. "I think a lot of people are coming in early to vote because they've learned what it's all about."

By Friday, the number of Alaskans who voted early in the 2018 general election had already exceeded the total number who voted early in the past three elections with a governor's race. However the number of in-person absentee ballots cast so far has not yet caught up to the total number in the previous elections.

Husmann said early voting has expanded to more locations in Alaska in recent years, so more Alaskans can vote early instead of voting in-person absentee.

(During early voting, a voter's eligibility is verified at the time of voting and then, if verified, their ballot is placed directly in the ballot box. In-person absentee ballots go into an envelope and the voter's eligibility is later reviewed.)

Alaskans can also vote absentee by mail, by fax and through online delivery.

Here's how the early and absentee voting tallies stack up, according to data from the elections division.

(Note: The tallies for 2018 are from Friday, with three days left before Election Day voting. The tallies for 2014, 2010 and 2006 are for the entirety of the election.)

• 2018: 27,776 Alaskans voted early and 20,616 voted absentee, 3,829 of those in-person absentee

• 2014: 22,200 Alaskans voted early and 50,844 voted absentee, 23,116 of those in-person absentee

• 2010: 13,246 Alaskans voted early and 40,905 voted absentee, 16,702 of those in-person absentee

• 2006: 8,454 Alaskans voted early and 33,045 voted absentee, 14,740 of those in-person absentee

Early voters are just a fraction of those who cast a ballot.

In the 2014 general election, a total of 285,449 Alaskans voted, about a 56 percent turnout. Voters elected Gov. Bill Walker, an independent, in 2014 over incumbent Sean Parnell, a Republican.

Meantime, voters are showing up in force at polls in other states.

The New York Times reported Friday that 31.5 million ballots had already been cast in midterm elections nationwide. In 22 states and Washington, D.C., advance votes — both absentee ballots and in-person early voting — exceeded the count from the 2014 election, the newspaper reported. (Alaska was not one of the states listed.)

Early voting in Alaska runs through Election Day. There are about 188 early-voting locations across the state, according to the elections division.

In Anchorage, Alaskans can vote early Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at the Region II Elections Office at 2525 Gambell St. On Monday, head to either City Hall, the elections office or the UAA Student Union from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Election Day.