FNSB residents head to the polls in 2023 municipal elections

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Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 8:28 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Tuesday, October 3 is Election Day in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, as residents head to the polls to let their voices be heard in several races in the community.

Every year, volunteers and election workers gather at polling places around the Fairbanks North Star Borough to help the process run smoothly.

Susan Yannish, Chair of Fairbanks #1 Precinct, helped at a polling place at the Carlson Center. “We’ve had a really good turnout today,” she said.

The polls opened at 7:00 a.m. on Election Day, closing at 8:00 p.m.

Voters who are in line to vote or are through the doors of the polling place by that time can cast a ballot on Election Day. According to Yannish, “When the polls close at 8:00, we lock the doors and we immediately turn off the machine so that no more ballots can go through there.”

A tally from the voting machine is then printed to leave a paper trail. Unused ballots are packaged to avoid any tampering. “Then we get into the machine and take out all the voted ballots and get them into an envelope so that they can be secured,” explained Yannish.

The number of ballots cast is then checked against the number of signatures collected in the registers so that all ballots are accounted for. As Yannish avowed, “There’s a process to make sure that every vote, every legal vote, counts.”

The scanner information from each polling place is then transmitted electronically to the borough. According to Yannish, “We all try to get it done immediately, first thing, and that is great, except that then there’s a traffic jam.”

Some polls, however, can’t always rely on technology to transmit their information, said Yannish. “Sometimes there’s a power outage. Sometimes there’s just technology problems.”

In such a case, the data has to be physically driven back to the borough. This can cause delays in getting a final count from election night.

If a voter can’t make it to their designated polling place within open hours, they can use any site within the borough.

However, only voting spots within the cities of Fairbanks and North Pole carry ballots for those districts. Yannish recalled, “We had a couple come in that live in North Pole, and they weren’t going to be able to make it back out there before 8:00 when the polls close, so they voted here. They got their borough ballot, but they did not get their North Pole city ballot, so that was the tradeoff. They got half of their votes in.”

While the borough works to have as much information for interested residents as possible on election night, the final count doesn’t come until a week after that, when absentee ballots are added to the total.

You can find the latest election numbers here.