How to vote in Alaska’s primary and special US House elections

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A polling place sign at the State Office Building in Juneau on Aug. 15, 2022. (Photo by Lisa Phu/Alaska Beacon)

Tuesday, Aug. 16, is an election day in Alaska. This is an in-person election, so voters who haven’t voted early or absentee will need to go to a polling place on Tuesday to cast their votes.

Voters will be weighing in on two elections: a pick-one regular primary election for U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, governor/lieutenant governor, state senator and state representative; and a ranked choice special general election to decide who will fill the remainder of Congressman Don Young’s term. Both elections are on the same ballot.

How to vote

Polling places are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 16.

“People should plan their time accordingly,” said Alaska Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai. “If you are in line at the polling place by 8 p.m. and haven’t made it to the front yet to get your ballot, as long as you’re in line by 8 o’clock, you’ll be able to vote.”

If you don’t know your polling place, there are a few ways to figure out where you should vote. You can enter your address into the Alaska Division of Elections Precincts map, enter your name and city in Division of Elections Voter Information website, or call any Division of Elections regional office. All methods will give your polling place and precinct number. The precincts map will also list your House District number and Senate District letter.

As an alternative, any voter can also vote at a Division of Elections regional office in Juneau, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Nome or Wasilla; the 8th floor of the State Office Building in Juneau; the Anchorage airport; or Service Area 10 Camp in Prudhoe Bay from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Each location will have ballots for all 40 different House districts. Certain House districts also have other alternative polling places.

Voters should bring a government-issued ID, such as a voter ID, driver’s license, state ID, tribal ID, military ID, passport, or hunting or fishing license. You can present a current utility bill or paycheck, government check or bank statement or other government-issued document that shows your name and current address.

“If somebody doesn’t have identification and is not personally known by one of the workers, they’re going to have to vote a questioned ballot. And that’s a requirement of state law,” Fenumiai said.

Two different elections, two different ways to vote

Voters on Tuesday are weighing in on two elections. You can see a sample ballot based on House district to familiarize yourself before you vote.

For the regular primary election, which is on one side of the ballot, voters will see lists of candidates for multiple races: U.S. senator, U.S. representative, governor/lieutenant governor, state senator and state representative. Pick only one candidate for each race. Up to four top vote-getters in the primary races will advance to the November general election. Only one state Senate district, which includes the North Slope and Northwest Arctic boroughs, will not be voting on a state senator during this election.

On the other side of the ballot, you’ll see a list of the top three candidates for the 2022 special general election for Alaska’s U.S. representative and a space for a write-in candidate. This is the ranked choice voting election to decide who will fill the remainder of Congressman Don Young’s term, which goes until Jan. 3, 2023.

“You will rank your candidates in order of preference. You can rank one, you can rank them all; it is entirely up to the voter individually to decide how they want to do that,” Fenumiai said.

Language assistance or special needs

The Division of Elections will have voting tablets at the election day polling locations, said Fenumiai.

“People that have an accessibility issue, such as being visually impaired perhaps or needing language assistance, we have tablets,” she said. “They have audio instructions and you could vote your ballot by using the audio instructions on there.”

Precincts will also have ballot magnifiers to take into the booth to read the ballot if a voter doesn’t want to use a tablet.

According to the Division of Elections website, language assistance is available for Alaska Native languages and Tagalog for voters who have limited English proficiency.

“Any voter can also have any person of their choosing to assist them in the voting process. They can take them into the booth. The person could read the ballot for them,” Fenumiai said.

That person cannot be a candidate in the election, your employer, agent of your employer or agent of your union. Assistance may be provided during each step of the voting process, including assistance inside the voting booth with reading and/or marking the ballot, according to the elections website.

“There also is a process called special needs voting where a voter can request someone to go get a ballot for them and bring it to them and have them voted. The voter would vote it, fill out the envelope and the personal representative would then take it back to a voting location on behalf of the voter,” Fenumiai said.

How to decide who to vote for

On its candidates website, the Division of Elections offers information for candidates in the 2022 primary election, and information on the top three candidates and write-in candidates for the 2022 special general election. You can find candidates’ websites and official candidate statements if they were submitted.

You can also learn about the candidates through questionnaires the Alaska Beacon sent to candidates. Read them here:

Find other Alaska Beacon election coverage on its Election 2022 webpage.

Alaska Beacon

Alaska Beacon is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Alaska Beacon maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Andrew Kitchenman for questions: info@alaskabeacon.com. Follow Alaska Beacon on Facebook and Twitter.

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