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Early voting starts today

Election Day is Aug. 16. But voters have several options for casting their ballots before then, too.
Riley Board
Election Day is Aug. 16. But voters have several options for casting their ballots before then, too.

Early voting kicks off statewide today for several Aug. 16 elections.

Starting Aug. 1, voters can cast their ballots for the special general election to fill Alaska's vacant seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Voters will rank their top candidates from a list of three — Republican Nick Begich III, Republican Sarah Palin and Democrat Mary Peltola, all of whom are running to finish the remainder of U.S. Rep. Don Young’s term in Congress.

That’s one side of the ballot. On the other, voters will pick their top candidates in the primary elections for U.S. House and Senate, Alaska governor and state house and senate races.

Incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is running to keep her seat in the Senate, with challenges from Republican Kelly Tshibaka and Democrat Pat Chesbro. There are several candidates running in the governor’s race, including Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce and incumbent Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

Those races are primaries, so voters will pick one candidate for each. The top four candidates in each race will advance to the general election in November.

Local state house and senate races are on the ballot, as well. But since those races have fewer than four candidates each, all candidates will advance to the general election in November, regardless of how they do in the primary.

How to vote

Cathleen Rolph, co-president for the Central Peninsula League of Women Voters, said voting early is a great option for voters who might be worried about long lines or COVID-19.

“I always go early. It’s just a lot easier," she said.

There are a few ways to vote in advance of Aug. 16.

Voters can cast absentee ballots in person at one of several early voting locations around the state — including one at Soldotna Prep School. That location’s open to voters between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. up until the day before the election.

Homer has a site, as well, at the city clerk’s office on Pioneer Avenue. For a full list of voting locations and hours, click here.

Voters can also vote any time by mail. Those who want to do that must request ballots by Saturday and postmark their ballots by primary election day.

Another option is to request an electronic absentee ballot. That’s possible until the day before Aug. 15.

Voter turnout is usually low in the Kenai Peninsula Borough. Rolph said she hopes the high-profile special election for U.S. House will bump those numbers up. The by-mail special primary for that election earlier this summer drew a higher-than-usual voter turnout at about 27.6 percent, according to the Division of Elections.

“It should be a banner year," Rolph said.

She said the local branch of the League of Women Voters is part of a coalition that’s working to turn out the vote.

This week and next, the league will have a booth set up at Soldotna Creek Park during the Wednesday market.

“We’re going to have everything everyone needs to know about voting, including how to register and where to register, and sample ballots, and information about voting," Rolph said.

She said the Alaska League of Women Voters is also working on a voter information guide on its main website.

Meanwhile, local voters will have an opportunity to hear from the candidates for the special U.S. House election this week.

The Kenai Chamber of Commerce is hosting a candidate forum Wednesday at the visitors center. Candidates Peltola and Begich are scheduled to attend; the chamber said Palin did not respond to an invitation. Attendees have until 3 p.m. tomorrow to RSVP at

For more information on early voting and to request a by-mail or online ballot, visit the Division of Elections website.

Sabine Poux is a producer and reporter for the Brave Little State podcast of Vermont Public. She was formerly news director and evening news host at KDLL in Kenai.

Originally from New York, Sabine has lived and reported in Argentina and Vermont and Kenai.
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