Update: We posted a new story with results here.
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Saturday is the last day for Alaskan voters to vote in the special 48-person U.S. House primary election that will reduce the number of candidates to four to fill the remaining term of the lone seat in the U.S. State in the United States House. The first set of results are expected to be released at 9 p.m., with additional updates on June 15, 17 and 21. Check back for more updates in the afternoon and evening on Sunday.
8 p.m. update:
Polls are now closed.
The Alaska Division of Elections said it plans to release partial results tonight between 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Additional updates are scheduled for June 15, 17 and 21, with the election to be certified on June 25. the rank choice election on August 16th.
Quiet country day
Update, 5 p.m.:
With three hours left to vote, it’s been a relatively quiet day for campaigning across the state as Alaska’s U.S. House candidates make their final pitches for votes in Saturday’s special election to replace the late GOP Representative Don Young.
No candidate publicly announced election night celebrations. But several made public appearances on Saturday.
Republican Tara Sweeney has been spending time at Anchorage Farmers Markets. Former Governor Sarah Palin and entrepreneur Nick Begich III, both Republican leaders, attended the Colony Days festival in Mat-Su.
Independent Al Gross, another frontrunner, planned to be in Juneau on election day before spending the evening in his hometown of Petersburg, his spokeswoman said.
Democrat Chris Constant epitomized the low-key Election Day ethos: Reached by phone Saturday afternoon, he was at home making last-minute calls to voters after hitting the gym and watering his lawn.
“To take care of my mental and physical health, while we wait,” he said.
[Alaska Supreme Court reverses lower court decision, allowing certification of U.S. House special primary results]
Constant and other candidates and aides said this week they look forward to finally getting accurate data on voter support when the state counts the first batch of votes Saturday night. With 48 candidates vying for this special primary, few trust the polls published so far.
“Anyone who says they have an idea of what’s going on is selling you a bill,” Constant said. “Any poll has a margin of error of three points. You have 48 candidates – spread that over all those candidates and tell me how you’re going to come up with something conclusive.
State election officials said they received nearly 130,000 ballots Friday night. But they said this week they were unlikely to add more than half to the initial tally on Saturday – the first results of which are due at 9pm.
The second and third rounds of counting are scheduled for Wednesday and Friday, with a final round the following week.
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What to know on the last day of voting
Update, 3:20 p.m.:
Saturday is the last day for Alaska voters to vote in the special 48-person U.S. House primary election that will narrow the field of candidates for the state’s only seat in Congress to four.
It’s a day that marks the end of a unique election that included former Governor Sarah Palin, Santa Claus and dozens of others.
A last-minute uncertainty was resolved on Saturday when the Alaska Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling that could have delayed election certification. The Alaska State Commission on Human Rights had sued the Division of Elections to ensure visually impaired voters had adequate access to vote.
More than 120,000 votes were cast Friday in Alaska’s first mail-in election. The Elections Division has mailed out more than half a million ballots, and voters can still return those ballots to local post offices – as long as they are postmarked on Saturday – or vote in person at a handful of locations across the state. Voters can also drop off completed ballots by mail to Division of Elections offices on Saturdays.
The race is the first under new Alaska election rules that eliminated partisan primaries, meaning all voters received ballots with 48 names, including six Democrats, 16 Republicans, 22 nonpartisan or undeclared, two libertarians, a member of the American Independent Party and an Alaskan Member of the Independence Party.
The top four voters will move on to the August 16 general election to determine who will fill the remainder of late U.S. GOP Rep. Don Young’s term. A separate election will be held for the next term, with a primary on the same day in August and the top four candidates qualifying for the November general election.
State election offices will begin counting a portion of the ballots they have received once the last polls close at 8 p.m. Saturday. They are expected to release preliminary results by 9 p.m. But the final results of the two-month campaign won’t be known until June 21, when the latest tally is due to be released.
The primary will eliminate more than 90% of candidates seeking to become Alaska’s first new congressman since 1973. That’s when Young, who died in office in March, was first elected.
How to vote
Officials say the best way to ensure votes are counted at this point is to return completed ballots to an in-person voting location, where election workers will stamp them. Alternatively, you can go to the post office and ask a worker to postmark your ballot, instead of leaving it in a collection box which may not be opened in time.
There are about 20 in-person voting sites across the state that will be open Saturday.
They are found in Anchorage, Birch Creek, Cordova, Fairbanks, Hollis, Hydaburg, Hyder, Juneau, Klukwan, Naukati, Nome, Port Protection, Seward, Soldotna, Thorne Bay, Talkeetna, Tenakee Springs, Trapper Creek, Wasilla, and Wrangell. A complete list, with addresses, is available here.
—Iris Samuels and Nathaniel Herz
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