This fall is election heavy, as it is every two years. Even with the August primary election out of the way, local residents still have two more elections coming up — the local government election in October and the state and federal general election in November.
The October local election will decide members of the Fairbanks City Council, North Pole City Council, Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly, the borough Board of Education and the Interior Gas Utility board of directors.
The November election will decide U.S. president and vice president, Alaska’s U.S. House seat, one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats, each of the Interior’s six House districts and who will replace Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole, for Senate District B.
Here are the steps and deadlines you should know to make sure you can participate.
Local Election – Oct. 6
Voters can apply for an absentee ballot in a number of ways, either by mail, email or fax.
Absentee ballot applications sent by mail are due back to the borough office no later than seven days prior to the election. That’s by 5 p.m. Sept. 29.
Those applications must be mailed to the Fairbanks North Star Borough Clerk’s Office, P.O. Box 71267, Fairbanks, Alaska, 99707-1267 or can be delivered in person.
Applications turned in by fax or email are due by noon on Oct. 5. Applications should be faxed to (907) 459-1224 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once a ballot is received and completed, email or fax ballots must be returned to the Borough by the end of Election Day or by 5 p.m. Oct. 6.
Mail-in absentee ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day.
Early voting will be open Sept. 21 to Oct. 1 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 27, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Shopper’s Forum Mall located at 1255 Airport Way.
In-person absentee voting will be open Sept. 21 to Oct. 5 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 2 and Oct. 5.
This method of voting will available at the City of North Pole Clerk’s Office, Fairbanks City Hall and by drive-thru at the Borough Administrative Center for the dates among and at the Shopper's Forum Mall on Oct. 2 and Oct. 5.
For day-of voting, polling places, which can be located by calling 1-888-383-8683, will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
General Election – Nov. 3
The deadline to register to vote or change voter registration for the general election is Oct. 4 for online updates. Mail-in voter registration or updates to voter registration must be post marked on or before Oct. 4.
Alaska is a “no excuse” absentee voting state meaning anyone can vote early or by absentee means for any reason.
The deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail is Oct. 24. This application must be sent to the Division of Elections Absentee and Petition Office at 2525 Gambell St., Suite 105, Anchorage, Alaska, 99503-2838. The deadline to request an absentee ballot online or by fax is 5 p.m. Nov. 2. This application must be emailed to email@example.com or faxed to (907) 677-9943.
Absentee mail-in ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day on Nov. 3 and will be accepted for up to 10 days after the election.
If voting by mail it’s important to send your ballots as early as possible after receiving it in the mail as the U.S. Postal Service has advised states it may not be able to keep up with the influx of mail-in ballots due to economic difficulties and short staffing.
Even if your ballot is postmarked by the required date, it may take longer to reach the Division of Elections and if it arrives after the 10-day window, your vote will not be counted.
Absentee online or fax ballots must be emailed or faxed back to the Division of Elections by 8 p.m. Nov. 3
Early voting and in-person absentee voting will begin 15 days prior to election day and will be available at the Fairbanks Division of Elections office located at 675 Seventh Ave., Suite H3.
In-person voting on Election Day will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. More information on polling locations can be found by calling 1-888-383-8683 or online at www.myvoterinformation.alaska.gov.
Why it matters
In the 2018 general election, less than half of the registered voters in Alaska participated by voting. While presidential election results often leave Alaska almost last to be counted due to our late time zone and the fact that Alaska has only a few electoral votes, state and local elections are often decided by only a handful of votes.
In 2018, the race for House District 1 covering much of downtown Fairbanks was decided by a single vote.
Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.