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Polls open for Aug. 16 election

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Dean Swope
/
KYUK

Although Aug. 1 was the first day of voting for the special election and pick-one primary election on Aug. 16, there hasn’t been a mad rush to cast votes at Bethel’s in-person voting location. Maryssa Soots, the absentee ballot voting official, said that by midday on Aug. 1 it had been downright slow.

“We've only had one person come into vote today, but we're probably going to have more voters trickling in through the 15th,” Soots said.

The special election features Democrat Mary Peltola, who is Yup'ik and represented the lower Kuskokwim area in the state legislature for a decade. Two Republicans are also running: former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, and Nick Begich III, the former co-chair of the Alaska Republican Party finance committee. Whoever wins will represent Alaska in the U.S. House until the November general election.

The pick-one primary includes races for U.S. Senator, U.S. House, governor, state senator, and state representative.

In Bethel, showing up in-person is a quick and easy option to cast your vote.

“They can come here to the main office building at 117 Alex Hately drive,” Soots said. “Our absentee ballot voting hours right now are from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.”

Voting will be available at the Orutsararmiut Native Council (ONC) building until Monday, Aug. 15. You’re required to bring at least one form of ID to vote absentee in-person. Special needs voting is also available for people who can’t come into the building physically.

“Someone with a disability or mobility issues, they can assign a representative to come in and pick up a special needs voting ballot,” Soots said. “So that's a good option for Elders.”

Voters can also request ballots by mail or electronically. The deadline to request a mail-in ballot is Aug. 6. For an electronic ballot, the deadline is Aug. 15.

Will McCarthy is a temporary news reporter at KYUK. Previously, he worked as a furniture mover, producer, and freelance journalist. Will's written for the New York Times, National Geographic, and Texas Monthly. He holds a master's degree in journalism from UC Berkeley.