With a week left until municipal Election Day on Oct. 5, early voting is well underway in the Fairbanks North Star Borough. For those who want to fulfill their civic duty early, there are several ways to vote prior to Election Day, including absentee, in-person absentee and by voting early.
Early voting opened Sept. 20, and as of Friday, 661 borough residents have opted to vote early, borough clerk April Trickey said. This is only the second year the borough has utilized early voting, and turnout so far this year is a 30% increase over 2020, Trickey said. Early voting is available 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Thursday at Shopper’s Forum Mall, 1255 Airport Way.
The application for mail-in absentee voting must be turned into the FNSB Clerk’s office by today. The application for online absentee voting is due to the clerk’s office by noon on Oct. 4.
Borough residents can also vote in-person absentee at the city of Fairbanks Clerk’s office and the city of North Pole Clerk’s office until Oct. 4, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. In-person absentee voting is also an option from Oct. 1-4 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Shopper’s Forum Mall.
Cullen Mahaffey, an administrative assistant with the borough, explained that early voting is a similar process to voting on Election Day, it just happens early. Voters visit the polling station, present identification, and once verified, fill out a ballot. These ballots are tallied on Election Day.
Absentee voting, on the other hand, is typically for when voters will not be physically present to vote on Election Day. Voters can request ballots via mail, email or fax, and can return them the same way. The ballots are not counted on election night, and instead are certified by a board.
In-person absentee, according to Mahaffey, is typically done when a voter shows up to vote early at the polls, but their qualifications cannot be verified. He explained that this could be because they forgot their ID or because their address recently changed. In this case, they fill out an absentee ballot which is later reviewed by a board.
On Election Day polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in locations throughout the borough. Races include Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly, Borough mayor, Fairbanks City Council, North Pole City Council, North Pole Mayor, FNSB Board of Education and Interior Gas Utility Board.