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Early Voting for FNSB, City Councils, School Board, IGU

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Alaska Division of Elections

Early and Absentee voting started last week for the municipal elections in the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Municipal clerks have set up several stations to collect ballots now, ahead of next week’s election day.

There was hardly a line at the Early Voting station at the Shopper’s Forum Mall on Sunday. Borough Clerk April Trickey says there is steady use of the station, which will be opened for Early Voting until this Thursday October 1.

There are also places where voters can vote absentee -- both City Halls in Fairbanks and North Pole and a drive-through absentee station in front of the borough administrative center. Trickey says more than 60 voters drove-through last week already.

In case you are confused between early and absentee voting, especially when they are both done in-person at a station like this one, you’re not alone. The distinctions are blurring. The main difference to the voter, is when your ballot is counted.

“Early voting gets counted the night of the election, like the other 40 polling places, and Absentee In-Person ballots are not counted until 7 days after the election.”

The city elections for Fairbanks and North Pole Councils, and the borough-wide Assembly, School Board and Interior Gas Utility elections will be held in 40 precincts across the borough. Early voting gets counted as an additional precinct on election night.

“Typically we have 40 out of 40 precincts that are resulting. We’re going to have 41 out of 41 precincts resulting on election night.”

So if you want your ballot counted on election night, you must vote at your normal polling place on election day, or at the early voting station by October 1.

All the early ballots after that and all of the absentee ballots, whether they are in-person, online or mailed in, get counted 7 days after the election. If some elections aren’t definitively decided on election night, communities will have to wait to find out who wins. Voters in Alaska are getting used to that, as some elections have been decided by just one or two votes.

With the pandemic, more voters are choosing absentee than ever before. Trickey says it takes a little more paperwork, but people seem to like it.

‘Absentee requires you to fill out on envelope, takes a little longer.”

You have until Tuesday at 5 p.m. to apply for an absentee ballot that you will mail back in. But you can request one online through next Monday Oct. 5, and you can vote in-person absentee through next Monday. Mail-in absentee ballots must be postmarked on Municipal Election Day, October 6.