Brian Mazurek / Peninsula Clarion                                Kim Lofstedt casts her vote early in Alaska’s Primary Election at Kenai City Hall on Monday.

Brian Mazurek / Peninsula Clarion Kim Lofstedt casts her vote early in Alaska’s Primary Election at Kenai City Hall on Monday.

Voters head to polls for primary election

Several changes will be in place at all polling locations Tuesday.

Voters will turn out today for the primary election — the first statewide election to take place since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In order to mitigate the spread of the disease while still ensuring Alaskans’ right to cast a ballot, several changes will be in place at all polling locations Tuesday.

Tiffany Montemayor, public relations manager for the Alaska Division of Elections, said via email that all poll workers will be required to wear masks, and voters will be encouraged to wear a face covering when they enter the building.

The state has also asked that “nonessential” people who will not be voting, such as children, not enter the building. The Division of Elections will have personal protective equipment, including masks and gloves, available at polling locations for voters to use.

Throughout the day, poll workers will be disinfecting all surfaces that are frequently touched, including voting equipment, booths, tables, pens, secrecy sleeves, door handles and light switches.

Hand sanitizer will be available for voters at the entrance and near voting equipment.

Polling locations will have floor markings that indicate 6 feet of distance. Voters are encouraged to social distancing while standing in line, being checked in or waiting to cast their ballot. In addition, election officials “will make every effort” to space the voting booths 6 feet apart. Officials will also be monitoring the number of people in a location at one time.

Concerns about the pandemic made recruiting poll workers this year more difficult than usual, and because of this the hourly pay rate for poll workers was raised from $12 to $15 an hour.

Montemayor said that preliminary results from early and in-person voting will be available around 9 p.m. Tuesday night. Absentee ballots will not be counted until Aug. 25, once voter history reports have been completed for other ballots. This is a security measure to prevent voter duplication, Montemayor said.

The State Review Board is scheduled to certify the election results on Aug. 30. All results released before the Board’s certification are unofficial.

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