How, where and when you can cast your ballot in Alaska’s November election

a person holds a voting sticker in a polling place
Big smile from a voter at Bethel Precinct Two. (Photo by Katie Basile, KYUK – Bethel)

It’s not enough to know who or what you want to vote for, you also need to know how and where to cast your ballot.

Here are the details to make sure you can have your voice heard this election season.

Key dates

Oct. 24Early voting locations open.

Oct. 29 – Last day to request an absentee ballot by mail.

Nov. 7 – Last day to request an absentee ballot by email or fax. Application due by 5 p.m.

Nov. 8Election Day! In person polling places are open, and it’s the last day to return your absentee ballot. If you mail your ballot on Nov. 8, ask your postal worker to postmark it by hand.

Nov. 23 – Unofficial election results announced for all rounds of ranked choice vote tallies.

Check your voter registration

Not sure if you are registered to vote or at what address? Check your status and find your polling place at myvoterinformation.alaska.gov. October 9 was the last day to register to vote, but you may have automatically registered when you filed for your PFD.

Ways to cast your ballot

You can vote with an absentee ballot, sometimes called voting by mail. You can also vote in person early or on Election Day. Need help voting? There are many different options. Find out all the details below!

Absentee ballots

Anyone can apply for an absentee ballot. You don’t need a reason. You can get your ballot by mail, online delivery or fax.

You had until Oct. 29 to register to receive a ballot by mail. Absentee ballots were mailed to you at whichever address you provided.

You can still get an absentee ballot sent to you via online delivery if you have an email address and access to a printer or by fax. You have until 5 p.m. on Nov. 7 to request one, but it may take from 24 to 48 hours to process your application. You can apply completely online if you have a state-issued ID or driver’s license. Call the Division in case you can’t fill out the form online. The number is 907-270-2700 or toll free within the U.S. at 877-375-6508.

Some campaigns and political parties mail absentee voter applications to people. You do not need to fill these out unless you want to vote by mail. You do not need to apply for an absentee ballot more than once per election cycle. If you didn’t apply to receive an absentee ballot by Oct. 29, you cannot receive one by mail.

How to return your absentee ballot

If you are voting with an absentee ballot you can return it multiple ways. 

You can mail it back but unless you are overseas military, you have to apply your own postage. The instructions say to use 84 cents worth, since the ballot materials weigh more than an ounce. A First Class Forever stamp is worth 60 cents. A postcard stamp is 44 cents. 

If you do not have any postage or enough postage, the Postal Service will still deliver your ballot to the Division of Elections. It will not be returned to you, and the division will pay the shortfall.

If you are mailing it close to Election Day on November 8, you are advised to take it to the post office and ask the clerk to stamp the postmark on it by hand. It must be postmarked by November 8. Some post offices send the mail to Anchorage to be postmarked, which means it could be considered late if it is not hand stamped.

You can also drop off your absentee ballot to an early voting location or any Division of Elections office. On Election Day, you can drop it off at any polling place. There are not ballot drop boxes like in Anchorage municipal elections.

You can also return your absentee ballot by fax by 8 p.m. Alaska time on November 8. If you return it by fax, you are waiving your right to a secret ballot. Election workers will see who you voted for. You also run the risk of faulty transmissions. There are online services that allow you to send a fax with your computer or smartphone.

Want to check the status of your absentee ballot? You can do that through My Voter Information, the same site for checking your polling place and registration status.

Early in-person voting and Election Day

Love going to the polls? You can start voting in-person on Oct. 24. Locations and times vary. See the whole list here. You can go to your local polling place on Election Day, Nov. 8. Find out where you vote here

If you are unexpectedly far from home on Election Day and haven’t voted yet, some early voting locations have ballots from every House district. If you go to the wrong polling place, you can still vote a questioned ballot.

You need to take ID with you, and you have many options:

• Voter ID card

• Driver’s license

• State identification card

• Passport

• Military ID card

• Birth certificate

• Hunting or fishing license

• Other current or valid photo ID

Don’t have any of those handy? You can also bring the following, though they must include your name and current address:

• Current utility bill 

• Bank statement 

• Government check 

• Pay check

• Other government-issued document

But I need help!

There are many types of assistance for voting.

Having trouble remembering who you want to vote for or how you want to rank? You can fill out a sample ballot and take it with you, just don’t share it with others or talk about who you are voting for. 

You can even have someone in the voting booth with you so long as they aren’t telling you what to do. You can bring a friend or family member but not a candidate, your employer or your union representative.

Need help picking up or dropping off your ballot? You can designate someone to do it for you starting on Oct. 24. Read about it here. Hear about the process or see it described in ASL here.

If you have vision problems, there are magnifying glasses at the polling places or you can use a digital tablet to help you vote. It has audio options as well as a high contrast screen.

If you or someone you know is more comfortable using Alaska Native languages, Tagalog, or Spanish, some ballots are translated into those languages. Learn more about language assistance here. You can also call a translation service for any language or listen to the ballot in Native languages through the digital tablet.

Results

On election night, the Division of Elections is only releasing the results of the first round of voting in Alaska’s new ranked choice voting system. (Find out more and practice here!) That means if a race has more than two candidates and none of the candidates has more than 50 percent of the vote, we don’t know who wins that race. The division will release full unofficial results on Nov. 23, the day that all ballots must be received.

This story stems directly from input by voters like you. Alaska Public Media reached out to voters across the state both online and in-person to find out what you want to know this election season. Learn more about our voter outreach and our collaboration with other local news organizations here.

Find other elections coverage and voter resources at alaskapublic.org/elections. Easily compare candidates with our new interactive tool!

Want to know the story behind the story? Subscribe to Washington Correspondent Liz Ruskin’s newsletter, Alaska At-Large.

Remember: Early voting locations are already open. You can still get an absentee ballot via fax or online delivery. Have other questions about the election? Get answers through our partners at KTOO by filling out the box below.

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Anne Hillman is the engagement editor for a special elections-focused project at Alaska Public Media. She also runs Mental Health Mosaics, a project of Out North that uses art, podcasts, poetry, and creativity to explore mental health and foster deeper conversations around the topic. Reach her at ahillman@alaskapublic.org.