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Polls Open for Primary Election, Voters to Choose Candidates for Senate & House Races in Western Alaska

Voters at the polls in Nome. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM.
Voters at the polls in Nome. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM.

Today is Election Day and for Alaskans that haven’t voted early or already mailed-in an absentee ballot, it’s their last chance to vote in the state primaries. Winning candidates from today’s Primary will go on to have their names on the ballot in the November General Election.

COVID-19 has presented staffing challenges for Alaska officials. Several polls around the state are reportedly unable to open due to a lack of staff and COVID-19 concerns. One of those is located in Nunam Iqua. Lieutenant Governor Kevin Meyer told KNOM earlier this month that those voters would most likely be able to vote absentee at their local Tribal Office.

“I would probably call somebody there in the tribal government and just ask if we could use their office building to accept people’s absentee ballots. So everybody would just be voting absentee on Election Day which isn’t the best way to do it, but we’ll do whatever we have to, to make sure people have their right to vote.”

Alaskans voting in-person can expect to find some COVID-19 precautions at the polls that may look familiar by now: like mandatory mask wearing, options for frequent sanitizing, as well as assigned places to maintain social distancing and stand six feet apart.

In the primary elections, each voter receives a ballot according to their political party affiliation. There’s a ballot for the Republican Party and another for the Democratic and Alaskan Independence Party. The third option is for a ballot measures only ballot.

When the polls close today, the results will only be an unofficial count of early voting done before last Thursday and in-person votes from today. Absentee ballots will still need to be counted and ballots must be double-checked and certified. Alaska Public Media reported earlier this month that the certification process is expected to take longer than usual due to the high volume of expected absentee ballots.

However, the Primary Election must be certified by September 2nd.

The polls are open from 7am-8pm and mail-in ballots must be postmarked today. Nome voters can cast their ballot at Old St. Joseph’s hall in town. A complete list of polling locations for Western Alaska can be found on the Division of Elections website.

Image at top: Voters at the polls in Nome. Photo from Matthew F. Smith, KNOM.

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We acknowledge that KNOM Radio Mission is located on the customary lands of Indigenous peoples. 

Based in the Bering Strait region, KNOM broadcasts throughout the homelands of the Iñupiaq, Siberian Yup’ik, Cup’ik and Yup’ik peoples.