How to vote by mail in Juneau: An election official answers your questions

For the second year, Juneau’s local election will be held by mail.  This year’s municipal election day is on Oct. 5, but the city began mailing ballots out on Sept. 14. 

City clerk and election official Beth McEwen answered some common questions that she’s heard from voters. 

What if I don’t get a ballot in the mail?

If you have not received a ballot in the mail by the end of September, please contact our office at 907-586-5278 — choose option 4. You can also email

You can get a replacement ballot at one of the two Juneau vote centers either at the Mendenhall library or the city hall vote center. We will go ahead and issue you a ballot at that vote center. You can vote it right there, put it into the drop box and it will be put into the ballot review process. The way we ensure that there are no duplicate ballots and only one voter gets to vote one ballot is that — if for some reason – somebody got a replacement ballot but then their original ballot came in the mail, we would count only the first ballot that was received. Any other ballots would be disallowed. 

What if I get someone else’s ballot in the mail?

If, by any chance, you receive a ballot in the mail that is not addressed to you — maybe a former resident or someone else that used to receive mail at that address — we ask that you please write on the envelope itself that the ballot came in “no longer at this address, return to sender.” That will help us communicate that information to the state Division of Elections so they can update their voter registration. 

Once I’ve voted with my ballot, then what?

Once you’ve actually received the ballot in the mail, you’ve gone ahead and looked at all of the candidate information and the information about the proposition on the ballot and decided how you were going to vote, you’re going to place that voted ballot into a secrecy sleeve, the secrecy sleeve is going to go inside your outer return envelope. You’re going to sign that outer return envelope, please put a personal identifying number right by your signature in the space provided. Then, you can return it in a number of ways: 

  • Via post office, we are paying the postage so there’s no stamp required. If you are putting it in the mail on election day, we encourage you to get it postmarked so that the actual postmark is actually visible for the date, so your ballot can be counted. 
  • You can drop it off at one of our two drop boxes. One is located at the Douglas Library, or out at the Auke Bay boat launch parking lot. 
  • We will have two vote centers available that you can drop your ballot off at the vote center and those are at the Mendenhall Library Monday through Friday from 10 to 6 p.m. starting on Sept. 20 through election day. The other vote center is located here at city hall in the Assembly chambers and that will be open from 8 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday starting Sept. 20. 
  • On election day itself, both vote centers will be open the normal poll hours from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. so you could bring your ballot then. 

How often will those drop boxes be emptied?

We will have election worker staff going out in teams of two and collecting those ballots on a daily basis starting Sept. 16 through election day. They will be closed right on the dot at 8 p.m. on Oct. 5, election day. 

How do you process the ballots?

Once we’ve checked the signatures on the envelope and we’ve ensured that that voter has only one ballot cast, then it gets approved for counting. We open the ballot envelopes, we separate the ballot from the secrecy sleeve and then those ballots get put through the ballot scanner and the Dominion machinery takes a picture of every single ballot that gets scanned. 

If there’s any discrepancies such as an overvote where there’s more than one ballot mark on the ballot where you have a race that can only be marked for one where there’s two ovals that have been marked, that would go through the adjudication process. That ballot would still be counted however that race if it was overvoted would not be counted. 

Once all the ballots are scanned then those go through the preliminary results. When we are done doing all of that process in Anchorage, any of the ones that are questioned are going to be coming back to Juneau — our canvas review board will review each and every one of those questioned discrepancies and make a determination and then they will certify the final results of the election based on their final determination after that full review. 

Will we have results on election day?

No. With vote by mail election all of the ballots that are going to be received this year — we will be packaging those up, taking all of those up to Anchorage and processing them. So we will not have any preliminary results on election night. 

When will we have results?

If we can, we will have preliminary results on Friday, Oct. 8 in the evening. If not it may have to wait until Monday, Oct. 11. The official results, when we actually know when the persons are actually elected, is certification by the canvas review board on Tuesday, Oct. 19. So, any results prior to the 19th are unofficial preliminary results. 

We will be posting results, preliminary results initially on our website for the elections and then we will also be posting our final results on the same website. So you can follow along with us as we are doing updates to those preliminary results, we’ll be posting those to our website

Rashah McChesney

Daily News Editor

I help the newsroom establish daily news priorities and do hands-on editing to ensure a steady stream of breaking and enterprise news for a local and regional audience.

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