A ballot for the Alaska Democratic Party 2020 Presidential Preference Primary is photographed on March 25, 2020. (Clarion staff)

A ballot for the Alaska Democratic Party 2020 Presidential Preference Primary is photographed on March 25, 2020. (Clarion staff)

Democratic party turns to vote-by-mail primary

All in-person voting scheduled for April 4 has been canceled.

The Alaska Democratic Party has canceled in-person voting for the upcoming Democratic Presidential Primary election and extended the deadline for mailing in ballots, according to a March 23 announcement from the party.

Citing the need to curb potential community spread of the new coronavirus, the Party’s Executive Committee “unanimously approved” several changes to the party-run primary for presidential preference, which was originally scheduled for April 4.

All in-person voting scheduled for April 4 has been canceled, according to the announcement.

The deadline to vote by mail, originally March 24, has been extended to April 10.

The Alaska Democratic Party has already mailed ballots to over 71,000 registered Democrats in the state, according to the announcement, but they have also posted a downloadable ranked-choice ballot, voter registration forms and instructions on how to vote on the Party’s website.

The results of the primary will be tabulated no later than April 11, 2020 at 11:59 p.m., according to the announcement.

To access the downloadable ballot, visit alaskademocrats.org/downloadable-ballot.

Voters must use their own envelope and first-class postage when mailing a downloaded ballot. The party recommends that people use a wet towel or sponge to seal their envelopes rather than licking them to avoid the spread of the virus.

Anyone who wishes to vote in the primary but is not currently registered as a democrat can still download and complete the ballot and include a voter registration form updating their party affiliation in the envelope in order to have their vote counted. For the ballot to count, the voter must complete, sign and date the voter registration form.

New voters in Alaska should also include a photocopy of a document verifying identification, according to the instructions on the party’s website.

Ballots must be received by April 10, 2020 in order to be counted.

Ballots should be mailed to the following address:

Alaska Democratic Presidential Primary

P.O. Box 200547

Anchorage, AK 99520-9838

Only one ballot and voter registration form is allowed per envelope. If multiple ballots or forms are received in one envelope, all ballots in that envelope will be disqualified.

Ballots can only be accepted by mail. Ballots without postage paid will not be accepted. Pre-paid envelopes cannot be used to mail in ballots.

To check your current voter registration status, visit myvoterinformation.alaska.gov.

This year, the Alaska Democratic Party is using ranked-choice voting for the first time for their presidential primary. Ranked-choice voting allows a registered voter to rank up to five candidates in order of most- to least-preferred rather than only choosing one candidate.

Once all ballots are collected, each person’s first choice is counted. Any candidate that receives more than 15% of the first-choice votes will automatically earn delegates. After first choices have been counted, the candidate with the lowest percentage of first choices is eliminated, and voters who chose that candidate then have their second choice counted. That process is repeated until every candidate remaining has at least 15% of the vote. Candidates will earn their proportional share of delegates based on the percentage that they received in the final tally.

For more information, visit the party’s website at alaskademocrats.org.

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