Early in-person voting opened today for Alaska, drawing long lines at many polling locations throughout the state.
At the Midtown Mall in Anchorage, the scene was particularly striking with the line looping around the inside of the building and people reported waiting more than an hour to cast a ballot. Voters wore masks and socially distanced while waiting.
The long line didn’t deter many voters, though some sought out seating for the long haul.
“Doesn’t matter. I’ve got all day,” said one woman, before asking her neighbors if they minded if she sat down.
“I guess I’ve got all day, too,” said another man, peering down the long line.
The line at the Anchorage City Hall was much shorter—though without the free parking—but long lines were the story for most of the state, according to reports on social media. Fairbanks and Wasilla faced particularly long lines.
According to the Alaska Division of Elections, 3,259 Alaskans had voted early in-person by 4 p.m. today. The state doesn’t keep track of the per-day records from previous years, but noted that a total of 39,242 people cast early in-person ballots during the 2016 general election.
Early voting has been popular in Alaska this year thanks to the pandemic and underlying concerns about voting access. Alaska has already obliterated previous records for by-mail absentee voting with more than 120,000 ballots being sent out either by mail or digitally. Alaskans have already returned a total of 35,717 by-mail ballots, according to the Division of Elections.
Alaskans can request a by-mail absentee ballot for any reason through this Saturday (you can still vote in-person if you change your mind).
However, most votes cast early will not start to be counted until a week after election day.
To vote early and have your vote counted for the election-day total, you’ll need to head out to the 10 early vote locations in Alaska, which include the Midtown Mall and Anchorage City Hall locations. Other early voting locations are technically absentee voting locations that won’t be counted until later. A full list of both kinds of early in-person voting locations can be found here. The early vote locations are as follows:
- Anchorage City Hall, 632 W 6th Ave
- Midtown Mall, 600 E Northern Lights
- UAA Student Union, 3211 Providence Drive’
- Region 3 Elections Office, 675 7th Ave, Suite A2
- UAF Wood Center, 811 Yukon Drive
- Region 1 Elections Office, Mendenhall Mall Annex
- State Office Building, Willoughby Ave, 8th Floor
- Region IV Elections Office, Sitnasuak Building, 214 Front Street, Suite 130
- Mat-Su Borough Building, 350 E Dahlia Ave
- Wasilla Public Library, 500 N Crusey St