Alaska Division of Elections mails out ballots for U.S. House special primary election

Ballots are in the mail for all registered Alaska voters for the U.S. House special primary election on June 11.
Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 4:49 PM AKDT
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska Division of Elections has started mailing out ballots to all registered Alaska voters for the special primary election to fill the state’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The ballots are being sent automatically by mail to around 563,000 registered Alaska voters. The primary election will be held on June 11. Ballots must be postmarked by that date to be counted, but they can arrive into the division on or before June 21.

Alaska voters will vote for one of the 48 candidates on the primary election ballot to fill the remainder of the late-Rep. Don Young’s term. The top four vote getters, regardless of party affiliation, will advance to the special general election, which will be held on Aug. 16.

In the June election, voters will choose one candidate, put their ballot into the secrecy sleeve inside the envelope provided, and have a witness sign the envelope as well as signing it themselves. Gail Fenumiai, director of the Division of Elections, said postage is paid by the state of Alaska, meaning ballots can be put straight into post boxes.

Voters can also deliver them to a post office directly, Fenumiai added, or they can drop their ballots off to regional Division of Election offices in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and Nome.

She said that there would be early and in-person voting, starting on May 27. The division put out a list of in-person voting locations on Wednesday.

“We’re striving to have open the same places we had opened for the general election in 2020,” Fenumiai said.

The special primary election will use a ballot tracking system called BallotTrax for the first time, like the Municipality of Anchorage used in April. Voters can sign up to see when their ballot has been mailed out, when it has been received by the division, and if it has been returned as undeliverable by mail.

That will be a signal to voters to contact the division to provide an updated mailing address, Fenumiai said. The state of Alaska will pay over $41,000 to use the BallotTrax system for the special primary election, she added.

“It will not notify voters if their ballot was counted or not,” Fenumiai said by email about the tracking system. “The division will send letters to voters, as required by state law, to voters whose ballots are not counted and the reason.”

The special general election in August will be the first in Alaska to use ranked-choice voting after Ballot Measure 2 was approved in 2020. Voters will be able to rank the four candidates on the ballot in order of preference or write in an alternative choice.

If no candidate gets over 50% of the first preference vote, the ranked choice voting system will be used. The candidate with the fewest votes would then be eliminated and their voters’ second choices would be distributed to the other candidates. That process would then be repeated until one candidate gets majority support.

The Aug. 16 special general election for Alaska’s vacant U.S. House seat will be held on the same day as the statewide primary election. Voters will also be deciding who advances to the statewide general election in November.

Fenumiai said voters will need to request an absentee ballot for those elections, if they want to vote that way, which can be done in Alaska for any reason.

The deadline to register to vote in order to be eligible for the June 11 special election is May 12. According to the Alaska Division of Elections, mailers that were sent out to some voters contained an incorrect date.

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