How to cast your vote in Alaska's 2020 election
October 1, 2020
Alaskans will be able to apply for no-excuse absentee ballots online this year, as election officials have made it easier to vote safely from home amid the coronavirus pandemic:
Older voters should have already received absentee ballot applications in the mail. Election officials in July sent absentee ballot applications to all registered voters 65 and older for the Aug. 18 primary and the Nov. 3 general election.
Early voting for the general election will begin Oct. 19, helping voters to avoid longer lines on Election Day.
Here’s what else you need to know.
How do I register to vote?
Most Alaskans are automatically registered to vote when they fill out their annual Permanent Fund Dividend applications. The system automatically updates addresses and other important voter information.
If you opted out of registration, you can register online, by mail or in person. You can register through the state’s online voter portal at https://voterregistration.alaska.gov/ using a valid Alaska driver’s license or state-issued ID card. If you don’t have either form of identification, you can complete a mail-in or in-person application.
You can also download a registration application and mail, fax or email it to your regional election office, along with a copy of your current driver’s license, a state ID, a passport or a birth certificate. The PDF can be downloaded at http://www.elections.alaska.gov/doc/forms/C03-Fill-In.pdf. Locate your regional election office at http://www.elections.alaska.gov/Core/contactusandsitemap.php.
Or you can apply in person at your local election office, at any other division of election office ( http://www.elections.alaska.gov/Core/contactusandsitemap.php ), at the Department of Motor Vehicles, at a voter registration agency ( http://www.elections.alaska.gov/Core/wheretoregister.php ) or at participating public libraries or tribal government offices.
The voter registration deadline is Oct. 4. You can check to see whether you’re already registered through the state’s voter information portal at https://myvoterinformation.alaska.gov/.
How can I get an absentee ballot? Are there important deadlines?
Alaska offers no-excuse absentee ballots, so there are no restrictions on any registered voter getting one.
In July, election officials mailed absentee application forms to all voters 65 years and older. If you didn’t receive an application or are under 65, you can complete an application on the state’s election website at https://absenteeballotapplication.alaska.gov/ or print one out at http://www.elections.alaska.gov/doc/forms/C06C.pdf and mail it to the absentee and petition office at the Alaska Division of Elections. Applications can also be faxed in or emailed using the contact information included on the ballot application.
Election officials must receive your application by Oct. 24. Ballots must be postmarked by Election Day, Nov. 3, and received within 10 days of the election. Voters using an absentee ballot must have a witness sign the ballot envelope to validate it; this year that can be done by anyone over age 18.
A personal representative can pick up or drop off ballots for those who are disabled or ill and will not be able to make it to the polls on Election Day. Your personal representative must return your completed ballot to a voting location on or before 8 p.m. on Election Day. For information is online at https://elections.alaska.gov/Core/specialneedsvoting.php.
How do I know that my absentee ballot is secure?
Voters must complete an oath-and-affidavit envelope that includes their signature and that of a witness. Election officials check those signatures and the information included about the voter against the information they have on record. All ballots are also reviewed by a bipartisan supervisory board.
When is Election Day?
Tuesday, Nov. 3. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can find a list of the state’s polling places on the state’s election website at http://www.elections.alaska.gov/Core/listofpollingplacelocations.php, or you can use the state’s voter information portal at https://myvoterinformation.alaska.gov/ to determine where to cast your ballot.
Can I vote in person before Election Day?
Yes. Early in-person voting begins as soon as Oct.19 in some locations. More information will be available from the Alaska Division of Elections closer to the start of the early-voting window. Visit http://www.elections.alaska.gov/Core/AIPEVEvents.php. You can also drop off your absentee ballot before Election Day at polling locations.
What form of identification do I need to vote?
When voting in person, you’ll be asked to show a valid ID, which could be a voter identification card, an Alaska driver’s license, a state-issued ID, a military ID, a passport, or a hunting or fishing license. For more information, visit https://elections.alaska.gov/Core/votingatthepollsonelectionday.php.
If you don’t have any of these forms of ID, you can use a bank statement, utility bill, paycheck or other government-issued document that confirms your name and address.
What is being done to make polling places safe from the coronavirus?
Polling places will follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. Voters are encouraged to wear face coverings, and those with health concerns are encouraged to cast no-excuse absentee ballots. Poll workers will be provided with personal protective equipment and are expected to regularly disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Hand sanitizer will be provided, and those inside polling places will be encouraged to practice social distancing. Depending on local conditions and public health guidance, you should also bring your own mask and hand sanitizer.
Will I be able to vote in the same place as I always have?
The Division of Elections expects all polling locations to be open. But the availability of election workers may cause some consolidation. Find your polling site using Alaska’s voter portal at https://myvoterinformation.alaska.gov/.
You can also call the state’s polling-place locator at 888-383-8683 (outside Anchorage) or 269-8683 (within Anchorage).
What are the key races in my state?
U.S. Senate: Incumbent Dan Sullivan (R) v. Al Gross (I)
U.S. House: Incumbent Don Young (R) v. Alyse Galvin (I)
State Senate: 10 of 20 seats
State House: All 40 seats
Voting rules and procedures may change before Election Day. We’ll update this story if they do, so bookmark this page and check back.
Also of Interest
Stay updated on the 2020 election at www.AARP.org/election2020
For the latest coronavirus news and advice go to www.AARP.org/coronavirus
AARP is urging older Americans to ask candidates these five key questions:
1. Just over half of all older Social Security beneficiaries rely on the program for at least 50 percent of their income. If elected, how will you ensure that current and future Social Security benefits are not cut as part of deficit reduction?
2. Half of the people with traditional Medicare spend at least a sixth of their income on health care. If elected, how will you protect Medicare from benefit cuts, as well as lower health care costs and ensure seniors continue receiving the affordable health care they have earned?
3. Unemployment during the coronavirus crisis reached the highest levels since the Great Depression, and older Americans have been affected disproportionately. If elected, how will you help Americans over the age of 50 recover economically from the effects of the coronavirus?
4. Americans pay the highest prescription drug prices in the world. If elected, how will you cut prescription drug prices for all Americans?
5. COVID-19 has caused death and suffering for too many older Americans who require long-term care. If elected, how will you make sure seniors can access safe and affordable long-term care at home, as well as in facilities like nursing homes and assisted living?
Merry MacKinnon is a freelance author based in Portland, Ore. This article is reprinted from the AARP Bulletin.