With just 11 days until a Nov. 3 general election that has been forced to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, peninsula voters may be unsure of what to expect when they show up to the polls.
Statewide, Alaska voters will be selecting their choice for U.S. president and vice president, U.S. senator, U.S. representative, State Senate Districts B, D, F, H, J, L, M, N, P, R and T, State House of Representatives districts and judicial retention. Additionally, Alaskans will be voting on two ballot measures. The first would change the oil and gas production tax for certain fields, units and non-unitized reservoirs on the North Slope. The second would replace the political party primary with an open primary system and ranked-choice general election, in addition to requiring more campaign finance disclosures.
Voters are able to view sample ballots for their house and judicial districts at elections.alaska.gov/Core/SampleBallot_2020_GEN.php.
The Alaska Division of Elections said people should expect some changes at their polling location in November due to the implementation of COVID-19 mitigation protocols. Voters may experience longer wait times due to some locations not having as many voting booths in order to maintain social distancing. A shortage of poll workers may also cause longer wait times. Some voters may be asked to wait outside the polling location to avoid having too many people inside at once. Personal protective equipment (PPE) including face coverings, gloves and hand sanitizer will be made available to voters.
The Division of Elections is strongly encouraging voters to wear masks inside of polling places and in cities with mask mandates. Masks are required in all state offices.
Upon arriving at their polling location, voters must show one form of identification. This can be in the form of a voter ID card, a driver’s license, a state ID card, a current and valid photo ID, a passport, a military ID, a birth certificate or a fishing or hunting license. Original copies showing the voter’s name and current address of utility bills, government checks, bank statements, paychecks or other government documents will also be accepted. Voters who do not provide ID, or whose names are not on the voter register, will have to vote a questioned ballot.
Voters can check their voter registration status, their polling place location and their absentee application and ballot status at myvoterinformation.alaska.gov.
Early voting is offered at 10 locations across Alaska starting 15 days before the election.
When you vote early, your eligibility is verified at the time you vote by an official who looks your name up in the voter registration database to verify that your registration is active and current. If it is, you will be asked to sign a voter certificate prior to being given your ballot. Once you have filled out your ballot, it will be dropped into a ballot box.
According to the Alaska Division of Elections, all ballots cast at an early voting site between Oct. 19 and Oct. 29 will be counted on election night. All other ballots will be counted started seven days after election night.
Early voting can be done at the Midtown Mall in Anchorage, the UAA Student Union in Anchorage, Anchorage City Hall in Anchorage, the Region III Elections Office in Fairbanks, the UAF Wood Center in Fairbanks, the Region I Elections Office in Juneau, the State Office Building in Juneau, the Region IV Elections Office in Nome, the Mat-Su Borough Building in Palmer and the Wasilla Public Library in Wasilla.
Absentee in-person voting
When you vote absentee in-person, your eligibility is verified after you vote by a bipartisan review board.
Voters will first be asked to complete an outer envelope with their information. Once their ballot is filled out, it will be put in a secrecy sleeve, which will then be secured inside the envelope. The ballot is then returned to the voter’s regional office where the voter’s eligibility is reviewed.
People voting absentee in-person will be asked to show ID, sign the absentee register and complete an absentee in-person voting envelope.
A voters’ eligibility will be determined at a later date by a bipartisan review board. The board meets one week before the election and reviews for two weeks. As of Thursday, no ballots have been opened. All eligible ballots will be opened and counted starting one week after Election Day, according to the Division of Elections.
Absentee voting by mail
To vote absentee by-mail, voters must first apply either online or via paper application. In order to apply online, voters must have a valid Alaska driver’s license or state ID card and the information provided on your application must match the information on your DMV record.
If a voter does not have a valid Alaska driver’s license or state ID card, they can download the PDF printable form which allows other types of identification to be used, including a Social Security number or date of birth. That form must be printed, signed by hand and sent to the Absentee and Petition Office by mail, fax or email as an attached PDF, TIFF or JPEG file, according to the Division of Elections.
Absentee application statuses can be checked at myvoterinformation.alaska.gov.
Applications for a by-mail ballot must be received 10 days before Election Day (Oct. 24). Ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day (Nov. 3).
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org