Absentee ballots are going in the mail this week

State election officials say that due to a record-breaking demand from Alaska voters the agency would begin the first mailing of absentee ballots ahead of schedule, between Oct. 2 and Oct. 5.

The earlier date will be of significant benefit to voters giving them more time to return their voted ballots, which must be postmarked on or before election day, Nov. 3, in order to be eligible for counting.

Alaska is one of only 10 states that allows for this later deadline.

Ballots postmarked within the United States must be received by Nov. 13 and those postmarked outside the U.S. must be received by Nov. 18.

The Division of Elections received a record breaking 93,000 absentee ballot applications as of Sept. 25 and expects that number to keep on growing. In light of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends absentee mail voting as the safest option, and state election officials are encouraging voters to consider this option.

For those who want to vote in-person, masks are encouraged.

Early voting begins on Oct. 19.

Any registered voter can request an absentee ballot at absenteeballotapplication.alaska.gov. The deadline to do so is Oct. 24.