Polls are closed for Alaska’s primary election. Now the wait begins.

Precinct 20-545 polling chair Sandra Graham, stands outside the polling station on Tuesday morning. Among other COVID-19 precautions, volunteers are keeping doors open to limit touch points for voters. (Photo by Kavitha George/AKPM)

Primary polls have closed, but it may be more than a week before Alaskans know the results of some races. The Division of Elections will post results here, likely beginning at 9 p.m. 

Turnout was light throughout the morning and afternoon in precincts throughout the state, according to numbers provided by the state Division of Elections. Six precincts in rural Alaska required voters to cast absentee ballots due to a shortage of poll workers. 

More than 38,000 Alaskans had voted early or by absentee ballot through Monday, more than twice as many as the total early and absentee primary vote four years ago. But some absentee ballot voters ran into problems with having United States Postal Service workers declining to serve as witnesses for absentee ballots, citing a new national policy. 

The Division of Elections hasn’t begun counting any absentee ballots, and the outcomes of close elections won’t be known until next week. 

The most intensely contested legislative races include the Republican state Senate contest in Anchorage, between Senate President Cathy Giessel and challenger Roger Holland. House races that have gotten the most attention include the South Anchorage Republican races between Rep. Chuck Kopp and retired petroleum engineer Tom McKay and between Rep. Jennifer Johnston and retired oil industry worker James Kaufman. 

In the northern Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Rep. David Eastman is facing a challenge from home builder Jesse Sumner. And Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux is facing a challenge from military contractor David Nelson for the Republican nomination for a district that includes Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. 

Andrew Kitchenman is the state government and politics reporter for Alaska Public Media and KTOO in Juneau. Reach him at akitchenman@alaskapublic.org.

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