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Tuesday marks special election on question of whether to recall Anchorage Assembly member Meg Zaletel

In-person voting ends at 8 p.m.
Anchorage votes graphic
Anchorage votes graphic(KTUU)
Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 9:58 AM AKDT|Updated: Oct. 26, 2021 at 5:15 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Tuesday marks the last day for residents of Midtown Anchorage to cast their vote in the special election that will decide whether Anchorage Assembly member Meg Zaletel is recalled.

Ballot packages were mailed to resident’s of Anchorage’s District 4 earlier this month, and secure drop boxes around the city have been open for people to return those ballots since Oct. 5. Official results may not be known for some time after the mailing deadline, according to the municipal deputy clerk. As of Monday, the office had received 8,715 ballot return envelopes.

Residents of District 4 can also mail in their ballots, as long as they are postmarked by the date of the election — Tuesday, Oct. 26. In-person voting will be open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Loussac Library. The secure drop boxes will also close at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Two petitions to recall Zaletel were initially filed last year. After a series of challenges both by the Municipal Clerk’s Office and in the Alaska Court System, one petition was rejected and one petition was allowed to move forward.

The petition, filed by Anchorage resident Russell Biggs, alleges that Zaletel “committed misconduct in office” in August 2020, and claims she violated a previous city emergency order by participating in an indoor gathering of more than 15 people at an assembly meeting.

The recall effort is similar to the effort to recall fellow Midtown assembly representative Felix Rivera last year, which failed during the last municipal election in April.

Both recall efforts have been centered around the city’s efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, namely with mitigation measures like masking, which Zaletel has supported.

“The group behind this effort includes my election opponent and people who oppose science-based efforts to end the pandemic,” she wrote in an official statement included in city election materials.

Because ballots can be returned by mail as long as they are postmarked by Tuesday, they may continue to arrive at the city election center for several days. All ballots besides military and overseas ballots have until Nov. 8 to arrive at the election center to be counted. The municipality will release the first round of preliminary results Tuesday at about 8:30 p.m., and will continue to release updated results every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, until certification day on Nov. 9.

Nov. 8 is when the city’s Election Commission is set to hold a public session of canvas at 5 p.m. Military and overseas ballots have until noon on Nov. 9 to arrive and be counted. Nov. 9 is also the day the assembly is scheduled to certify the results of the election.

As of the end of Monday, the Municipal Clerk’s Office said there were approximately 150 ballots so far that were challenged. If the challenge was due to a signature issue, Deputy Clerk for elections Erika McConnell said the voter will get a letter mailed to them by the city explaining how they can resolve the issue.

“If the voter has provided their phone number or email on their ballot, we may call or email them,” she said via email.

Voters who have challenged ballots need to follow the instructions in the letter they get from the city, and return any necessary information to the city’s election division by email, fax, mail or in person. Issues with challenged ballots need to be resolved by 4 p.m. on Nov. 8, before the public session of canvas, McConnell said.

“But voters may also attend the Public Session of Canvass and discuss their ballot issue directly with the Election Commission,” she wrote.

If a voter has concerns about a call from a city election official, they can call the city back at the voter hotline at 907-243-VOTE (8683) or email elections@anchorageak.gov.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional information.

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