COVID won’t stop Alaska from holding traditional primary election

    Alaska Lieut. Governor Kevin Meyer said Alaska will conduct the August primary election in the traditional manner, with all options available for Alaskan voters. This includes absentee voting, early voting up to two weeks prior to election day, and in-person, election day voting.

    “Balancing the interest in public health with the constitutional right to vote means the 2020 election will be unlike any we have seen in our lifetime,” Meyer stated May 15. “We take very seriously the concerns surrounding voting in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic and have been hard at work to form a solution that lowers Alaskans risk of exposure.”

    The Legislature gave permission for the state to conduct vote-by-mail, but the Meyer and the Division of Elections ultimately determined that the traditional voting protocols would best safeguard the integrity of the elections while also facilitating voting for those with disabilities and others for whom English is not their primary language.

    In primary elections voters have a choice between two ballots – the Republican ballot or the Democrat and all others ballot. With an estimated 550,000 voters – 70% of whom would be eligible for either ballot – Meyer said the mail-in only approach would require the state to send 900,000 ballots to 450,000 Alaskans. Since only 30% of voters actually cast ballots, that would leave 600,000 unsecured ballots in post offices, on kitchen tables or in the garbage can, Meyers said.

    “That is very concerning to have so many unsecured ballots,” he noted.

    So instead, the state will heavily promote absentee and early voting to minimize concerns with COVID-19. Since absentee voters can request their specific ballot, this prevents having to send both primary ballots to each voter – only one of which can be legally cast.

    “We know this process works and will work,” Meyer said. “We’re going to be ready come August 18 for the primary election to come off smoothly, safely and effectively.”

    Another benefit of providing in person voting is that voting machines will be in all 441 voting precincts across the state, ensuring that those who don’t speak English or have special needs will be able to vote and receive assistance as needed.

    “The voters are going to have multiple choices come this election and they will and should pick the one they are most comfortable with.”

    Those choosing to vote in person – either early or on election day – will see enhanced protective measures in place, including social distancing protocols to ensure the safety of voters and election volunteers and workers.


    • Absentee voting: Voters apply to receive ballots by mail for all state conducted elections in a calendar year, including the primary and general elections.
    • Early voting in person: Voters may vote an early in person ballot up to 15 days before election day at designated voting centers.
    • Election day in person: Voters may vote in person on election day at local polling places.

    More information on the 2020 elections, including voter registration and polling locations, can be found here.

    More information on the 2020 elections, including voter registration and polling locations, can be found here.

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