Voters cast ballots in Alaska’s special general and regular primary elections at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Voters cast ballots in Alaska’s special general and regular primary elections at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Thousands of borough voters have already voted in Nov. 8 election

Federal and state races and constitutional convention question are all on the ballot

Voting in the Nov. 8 general election is well underway in Alaska and on the Kenai Peninsula. Nearly 3,000 Kenai Peninsula voters have already cast their ballots, which feature federal and state races, as well as the question of whether or not Alaska should hold a constitutional convention.

In State House District 7, which includes Kenai and Soldotna, about 5.1% of registered voters have already cast ballots, according to data from the Alaska Division of Elections. That’s compared to about 5.8% in House District 6, which includes Kasilof and Homer, and about 6.4% in House District 8, which includes Nikiski and Moose Pass.

Linda Cusack was one of the poll workers helping voters Thursday at Soldotna Prep School, one of the Kenai Peninsula’s early voting and absentee in-person polling places. As of about 9 a.m. — when the site opened for the day — nearly 500 ballots had been cast since Monday, 244 of which were cast on the first day early voting opened.

“Definitely we’ve had more voters than we typically would have,” Cusack said.

She attributed the turnout to the issues on the ballot: a U.S. Senate and U.S. House race, plus an Alaska gubernatorial race and constitutional convention question. Cusack said turnout so far is higher than in the Oct. 4 Kenai Peninsula Borough election and lower than the last presidential election.

“We’re thrilled,” she said of the turnout so far. “The more people who come, the happier we are. That’s why we’re here: because we believe in voting.”

Cusack said there’s been a “little bit of confusion” about ranked choice voting, which has resulted in more spoiled ballots than usual. Poll worker Janet St. Clair said, however, that some voters have clearly benefited from commercials and other explainers about the process, through which voters have the option to rank more than one candidate in a race.

“People will come in and they’ll repeat the words that they’ve heard,” St. Clair said, adding that they try to answer questions voters might have about the structure.

St. Clair said the voting machines are also helpful, because they identify if a voter makes a mistake on their ballot. Once a voter reexamines their flagged ballot, St. Clair said, they can either send it back as-is, or fix the mistake.

The two poll workers have decades of experience between them and were working alongside Michelle Blackwell, who is newer to the process. Both Blackwell and Cusack have experience canvassing for the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s municipal elections, a process that Blackwell described as “enlightening.”

“It just gave me such confidence in the system because you see behind the scenes and all that goes into ensuring it’s authentic and proper,” Blackwell said.

St. Clair added that she views Alaska’s state elections as particularly secure because of the ballot paper trail. She said poll workers hand count ballots to make sure the number of voted ballots match their other documentation from the day.

“It’s just that checks and balances all the way down,” St. Clair said.

There are three early voting locations on the Kenai Peninsula, including in Kenai, Soldotna and Homer.

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, 8 and 37.

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. Voting will be available from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 24. That location has ballots for State House districts 5, 6, 7, 8 and 37.

Absentee in-person voting is 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 districts 5, 6, 7, 8 and 37.

Absentee in-person voting is also available at the Seward City Clerk’s office at 410 Adams Street from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. That location has ballots for State House districts 5 and 8.

Absentee in-person voting is also available at the Seldovia City Clerk’s office at 245 Dock Street from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. That location has ballots for State House District 6.

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.

Poll workers Carol Freas and Joan Seaman oversee early voting on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, at Kenai City Hall in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Poll workers Carol Freas and Joan Seaman oversee early voting on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, at Kenai City Hall in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Gary Anderson fills out an early voting ballot on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, at Kenai City Hall in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Gary Anderson fills out an early voting ballot on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, at Kenai City Hall in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

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