A “Vote Here” sign is seen at the City of Kenai building on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion file)

A “Vote Here” sign is seen at the City of Kenai building on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion file)

Polls open for early voting

Early voting started on Aug. 1 and is available through Aug. 15

Early voting is open for the Aug. 16 election and there are multiple locations on the Kenai Peninsula where voters can cast their ballots.

This year, Alaska’s special general and regular primary elections will be held concurrently on Aug. 16. Early voting started on Aug. 1 and is available through Aug. 15.

Former State Senate District O is now State Senate District D. District D includes the Kenai/Soldotna area and covers the northern half of the Kenai Peninsula with borders extended to above Tustumena Lake. That district is currently represented by Peter Micciche, who has said he will not run for reelection. Jesse Bjorkman and Tuckerman Babcock are both running for the seat.

Former State House District 30 is now State House District 7 and includes most of Kenai, Soldotna and Kalifornsky. That seat is currently held by Ron Gillham, who is running for reelection against Soldotna City Council member Justin Ruffridge.

Former State House District 29 is now State House District 8 and includes the Kenai Peninsula north of Tustumena Lake and east of Kasilof. It includes Bear Creek, but not Seward, which is in State House District 5 and State Senate District C. That district is currently represented by Ben Carpenter, who is running unopposed for reelection.

Soldotna Prep School, located at 426 W Redoubt Ave. in Soldotna, offers early voting and is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. That location has ballots for State House districts 5, 6, 7 and 8.

The Homer City Clerk’s Office, located at 491 E Pioneer Ave. in Homer, offers early voting and is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. That location has ballots for State House districts 5, 6, 7, 8 and 37.

Absentee in-person voting is also available at the Kenai City Clerk’s office at 210 Fidalgo Avenue from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. That location has ballots for State House district 5, 6, 7 and 8.

More information about all locations can be found at elections.alaska.gov/avo/. Voters may also request an absentee by-mail ballot through the Division of Elections’ website at absenteeballotapplication.alaska.gov. The deadline to request an absentee by-mail ballot is Aug. 6.

On one side of the Aug. 16 ballot, voters will rank candidates vying to fill the remainder of the late Don Young’s term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Candidates will rank candidates Nick Begich III, Sarah Palin and Mary Peltola on that side of the ballot using Alaska’s new ranked choice voting system.

On the other side of the ballot, Alaskans will vote in the state’s regular primary election. For each race, voters will vote for one candidate. This year’s primary races include those for U.S. senator, U.S. representative and governor and lieutenant governor, as well as for seats in the Alaska Legislature.

Candidates running for the U.S. House on the regular primary side of the ballot are running for the next two-year term of Alaska’s at-large seat in the U.S. House. That term is different from the one that ends in 2023 and that Don Young was to finish out.

The ranked choice ballot shows a grid of bubbles, with one row for each candidate and one column for preference order. Voters fill in the bubble in the “1st Choice” column that corresponds to their first-choice candidate. Voters then move to the second column and fill in the bubble that corresponds to their second-choice candidate, and so on. Voters can rank up to four candidates, or just rank one, two or three candidates.

If a candidate receives more than 50% of the first-choice votes, that candidate would be declared the winner of the election.

If no candidate receives more than 50% of the first-choice votes, the candidate who received the least number of first-choice votes is eliminated. Then, the voters who ranked the eliminated candidate as their first choice would have their second-choice candidate votes distributed to the remaining candidates. The process will continue until one candidate emerges with more than 50% of the votes.

More information about this year’s state elections, as well as sample ballots by state legislative district, can be found on the Alaska Division of Elections website at elections.alaska.gov.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

Correction: This story has been updated with the correct hours of operation for early voting at Soldotna Prep School. That location offers early voting from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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