Anchorage officials certify vote-by-mail results

Anchorage officials finalized the city’s vote count Tuesday night, the last step in an election where one of the biggest surprises was the success of the newly implemented vote-by-mail system.  

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About 79,295 ballots were cast, pushing turnout to just over 36 percent, a high figure relative to Anchorage’s normal local election returns.

Many praised the municipal Clerk’s office.

Assembly member Eric Croft said the increase in civic engagement is evidence that the new system made voting easier for residents. 

“We’re all impressed on the numbers, but what it means is that our prior system didn’t work for a lot of people, and we’ve been bemoaning the lack of participation, and some of it is we didn’t make it very easy for people,” Croft said. “And we’re trying to fix that.”

The vote certification upholds preliminary results.

  • Mayor Ethan Berkowitz won a second term.
  • Ballot measure one, related to bathroom regulations, was struck down by a few thousand votes.
  • The sale of a municipal electrical utility will continue forward.  

The clerk’s office says it will continue looking at ways to improve the vote-by-mail system, such as potentially including postage for returning ballots. 

The Assembly also is undergoing a bit of a shakeup in leadership.

Long-time chairman Dick Traini is ceding control of the body to a newer member. After a quick vote count, the assistant clerk announced the results. 

“We have a new chair. Forrest Dunbar,” he said.  

The change in leadership on the Assembly is not a total surprise.

Dunbar wrote earlier in the day on Facebook he was vying for the chairmanship with Traini’s support as a way to spread more institutional knowledge at a time when most Assembly members are newer.

Prior to being elected onto the Assembly in 2016, Dunbar had run against Congressman Don Young for his House seat.   

Eric Croft, who represents west Anchorage, was elected to be the new vice chair.