District sees uptick in absentee ballots

Kodiak Island Borough recognized Ali Borton, Sandy Peotter and Jan Chatto, all of whom were chairs of polling places during the Nov. 3 election.  

The 2020 general election saw an increase in votes cast through absentee ballots in House District 32 compared with the 2016 election, according to preliminary numbers. At the same time, in-person numbers dropped slightly across the district, which includes Kodiak.     

Unofficial results released by the Alaska Division of Elections show that 3,421 votes in the district were cast through absentee ballots, 1,076 more than in 2016. 

While districts across the United States reported record numbers of early voting, House District 32 actually saw a drop from the last presidential election: 37 this year compared to 52 in 2016. 

But across Alaska, more people voted early this year than in 2016, with 53,229 early ballots submitted compared to 39,242 in 2016. On election night, the state counted 36,268 early votes. 

The unofficial results from the Division of Elections show that in Chiniak precinct, 49 out of 138 registered voters cast their ballots — a 35.5% turnout, lower than the 43.26% turnout in 2016. 

The Bells Flats precinct at the Women’s Bay Fire Department and the Kodiak No. 1 precinct at the Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium each saw about 26% of registered voters cast their ballots, a drop from the 2016 turnout of 28% and 39% respectively. 

The Kodiak Island South precinct saw the smallest turnout, with just 20 people out of 165 registered voters casting ballots — a turnout of only 12% and a drop from 15% in 2016. 

The Kodiak No. 2 precinct at the Teen Center also had a slightly lower voter of 32% compared to 39% in 2016. Likewise, the Mission Road precinct experienced a lower turnout this year (35%) compared to the last general election (44%). And participation in the village of Old Harbor fell to 31% this year from 37% in 2016. 

However, not all precincts had lower turnout. The village of Ouzinkie held steady with 30% turnout in 2016 and 2020, while Port Lions saw 40% turnout during both elections. 

The Alaska Division of Elections on Tuesday started counting more than 156,000 uncounted ballots from the election, accounting for 45% of all votes cast in the state. Results are expected to be released later in the week. All absentee ballots must be counted no later than 15 days after the election. 

Lacey Penington, an election-worker trainer with the state, said that because of Alaska’s vast geography and the remoteness of many communities, it takes time for ballots to arrive on time. Additionally, mail service is infrequent in some areas, which also contributes to potential delays in ballot delivery. 

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