Maralee Guiher drops off her ballot during the City and Borough of Juneau Municipal Election on Oct. 6, 2020. By 8:30 a.m., 28 voters had dropped off ballots, election officials said. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Voter turnout for by-mail election highest since 2000

So far 40% of eligible ballots have been counted.

Tuesday’s municipal election saw the largest voter turnout in Juneau since 2000, with 40.5% of voters participating in the election, the city announced.

Ballots are still being processed and results from the election won’t be available until at least Friday evening, City Clerk Beth McEwen said, but turnout numbers are not expected to increase significantly.

The City and Borough of Juneau has so far received 11,142 returned ballots either through the mail or the city’s drop boxes and vote centers as of Tuesday evening. The city sent out 27, 467 ballots in September and based on returns in other municipalities that conducted vote-by-mail elections, McEwen said the city expected to have a higher than normal turnout.

“It was expected that we would have a good turnout,” McEwen said in a phone interview Wednesday. “I never predict what the turnout is going to be.”

She said about 4% of ballots were undergoing the “cure letter” process. That’s when election officials send letters to voters whose ballots have been found to be deficient for some reason for correction.

McEwen said city staff were working to process ballots as quickly as possible and hope to have preliminary results after 5 p.m. Friday.

“We want to make sure it’s accurate as well,” she said. “We’re not going to rush the process.”

The turnout was an increase over the past two years, according to city data. Voter turnout was 31.4% in 2019, and 34.5% in 2018.

Of the many options for Juneauites to submit their ballots, the largest chunk — 3,422 — were sent directly to the Anchorage Election Center, the city said. Don D. Statter Harbor’s voter dropbox receive the next highest amount at 2,277, and the Mendenhall Valley Library Vote Center received 2,404 ballots.

The Douglas Library and Fire Hall received 1,770 ballots and the City Hall Vote Center 1,218. Fifty-one ballots were submitted directly to the clerk’s office, according to CBJ.

Due to the volume of ballots received so far, the first round of unofficial results may not account for all 11,142 ballots received by Election Day, according to the city. Ballot processing will continue on the remaining ballots and a second round of unofficial results will be available on October 16. The Canvass Board will meet on Tuesday, Oct. 20 to certify the official results and the election. All results will be posted on juneau.org/clerk/elections, according to the release.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnoEmpire.

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