ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The polls have closed and Anchorage voters have completed their part of the city’s first election by mail, and it appears that the city may have increased voter turnout over the past few years.
A spreadsheet from the municipality released late Tuesday night showed that the city had received 66,453 ballots by 5 p.m. that day. That doesn’t include the ballots turned in later on Tuesday to accessible voting centers, secure ballot boxes and through the U.S. mail – or those on their way through the mail that hadn’t quite made it yet.
So how do we know when the results are set? They won't be on Tuesday night. The first set of results were released just before 9:00 p.m. Tuesday, and Municipal Clerk Barbara Jones says that included in those numbers are all the votes received through this morning, along with some that were picked up at drop boxes Tuesday afternoon.
If you voted at an Accessible Vote Center Tuesday, or dropped off your ballot in a box later in the day -- or if you sent your ballot through the mail recently -- it is not included in the first batch of numbers.
Why? “All of the accessible vote centers and the drop boxes, those are going to be picked up—the ballots are going to be picked up and returned here after 8:00, and so it takes a while for us to sort, process, and go through all of the steps,” Carolyn Hall, the city's Vote by Mail outreach coordinator said earlier in the day Tuesday from the election center at Ship Creek.
The city's election division will update results each day as they continue to come in. A public canvass is planned for April 12.
Even though it was a first-time experience for voters and election workers, Jones was happy with how it turned out.
"We're really happy," she said in a live interview with Channel 2 Tuesday night. "We're happy that we've figured out what we're doing; we're really happy with the results, we're thrilled that our workers understood what we needed to do, and we're really excited that so many people in Anchorage voted."
The 50,506 ballots tallied Tuesday evening represent 23.13 percent of registered voters in Anchorage. The total received by 5 p.m. would total 30 percent voter turnout.
In 2015's regular election, the last regular election for mayor (that race went to a run-off), 27.93 percent of registered Anchorage voters cast a ballot. In that run-off election, which selected Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, 34.13 percent of Anchorage voters participated. Last year, in 2017, 23.20 percent of voters came to the polls. In 2012, another mayoral election year, the city saw 35 percent voter turnout.
The line at the ballot drop box at the Loussac Library had a steady stream of traffic Tuesday afternoon.
“I thought it was easy,” said Jordan Scully, who was voting in person at the Loussac Library. “I usually go up to my child’s school to (vote) and I have to wait in line for long periods of time and today I didn’t have to,” she said. Scully was missing her ballot, though she says it wasn’t delivered to her home because someone was parked in front of her mailbox at the time of delivery.
“I think it helps make it more accessible for some people,” said Nick Greene, who was dropping off his ballot.” He said he supported going to vote by mail, but would have voted either way.