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Thousands of Alaskans turn out to vote early

Voters reported long lines to vote at the Mendenhall Mall in Juneau.
Voters reported long lines to vote at the Mendenhall Mall in Juneau.(KTUU)
Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 6:37 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Early voting for the general election began across Alaska on Monday.

Long lines were reported at some polling places across the state. At lunchtime, voters waited for roughly an hour to cast their ballots at the Mendenhall Valley Mall in Juneau.

Andrea Gibson moved to Alaska from Texas one year ago with her husband, who serves in the U.S. Coast Guard. “I get a kind of joy and sense of empowerment by going to vote,” she said.

A steady stream of people came to vote at the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Building in Palmer. Long lines were reported in Fairbanks.

Poll workers sanitized secrecy envelopes as they thanked voters for casting their ballot at the Midtown Mall in Anchorage. One poll worker said there had been long lines since 8 a.m. and that some eager voters lined up before the polling location opened.

“We thought we’d be sitting with our feet propped up," another nearby poll worker quipped.

Brad Harris stood in line for about an hour to cast his ballot. He said that early voting is helpful for balancing a busy life, but also for those who are anxious to get their vote out.

Doris Hugo-Shavings said she’s always voted, but has never seen a line as long as the one she was standing in. “I’m hoping this is a good message that more people are getting involved,” she said.

Ballots cast in person through Oct. 29 will be counted on Election Day. Ballots cast in person between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2 will be counted seven days after the election, along with Alaska’s absentee ballots, to check no one voted twice.

Gail Fenumiai, the director of the Division of Elections, said that 35,717 absentee ballots had been received by the division by Monday morning. The state has sent out over 120,000 absentee ballots to Alaskan voters, which is a record for the state.

By Monday afternoon, 3,259 Alaskans had already voted early in person. Just over 39,000 Alaskans voted that way during the 15-day early voting period for the 2016 election.

A list of times and locations of early voting centers can be found online.

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