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Preliminary, unofficial special election results show Zaletel beating recall

Official results won’t be known for some time as mailed ballots trickle in
Ballots are counted during the Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021 special election in the effort to recall...
Ballots are counted during the Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021 special election in the effort to recall Anchorage Assembly member Meg Zaletel.(Connor Matteson/Alaska's News Source)
Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 8:25 PM AKDT|Updated: Oct. 26, 2021 at 8:36 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - An initial round of preliminary, unofficial special election results released Tuesday night show Anchorage Assembly member Meg Zaletel retaining her seat in the effort to recall her.

These results are unofficial and preliminary, and could be subject to change as election officials continue to receive ballots that were mailed in. The initial round of results show 9,320 ballots counted so far.

Anchorage voters in District 4 were asked whether they want to recall Zaletel from her seat on the assembly representing Midtown. The preliminary results shared by Municipality of Anchorage election officials show 5,702 “no” votes against recalling her, and 3,618 “yes” votes in support of the recall. That’s a breakdown of about 61% of ballots counted so far against the recall to close to 39% in favor of it.

By the end of Monday, election officials had received 8,715 ballot return envelopes. Ballot packages were sent out to registered voters in District 4 on Oct. 5. Secure drop boxes have been open since that day, and the Anchorage Vote Center opened for voting on Oct. 18.

As part of the city’s mail-in option for voting, ballots that were mailed in will be counted as long as they were postmarked by Tuesday. Mailed ballots will likely continue to arrive after election night, and they can still be counted as long as they arrive at the election center by Nov. 8.

Overseas and military ballots have until noon on Nov. 9 to arrive and still be counted.

Officials results likely won’t be known for some time, and election officials will continue to post updated preliminary results every Monday, Wednesday and Friday until Nov. 8, the day the city’s Election Commission is set to hold a public session of canvas.

The assembly is scheduled to certify the results of the election on Tuesday, Nov. 9.

“It appears that we’ve beaten this unwarranted recall attempt with the help of countless volunteers and supporters,” Zaletel said via text Tuesday night. “We’ll of course await all of the results, but I hope this puts the distraction behind us and I can continue to do the important work of representing Midtown.”

The preliminary results released Tuesday night showed 9,346 ballots cast, which is just about 22% of the total registered voters for Midtown.

Also as of Monday, the Municipal Clerk’s Office said there were approximately 150 ballots so far that were challenged. Deputy Clerk for elections Erika McConnell said that if the challenge was due to an issue with the signature, 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 whose ballots are challenged need to follow the instructions in the letter they get from the city, and return necessary information to election officials 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 response from Anchorage Assembly member Meg Zaletel.

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