Who is responsible for completing
the tasks required after the election is over?
state law (AS
29.20.380(a)(7)), the city clerk is supervisor
of elections and is responsible for administering all
municipal elections. Though not specifically spelled
out in statute, AS
29.26.070(c) makes reference to the
local governing body acting as the canvass committee.
Your local ordinances will usually specify that the
governing body act as the review or canvass committee.
The canvass committee verifies the preliminary count
conducted by the election judges, reviews the absentee
and questioned ballots and verification of questioned
voter eligibility, and either orders additional information
or certifies the election. If the community
has not exempted itself from the 40% rule, and a run
off election is required, the canvass committee can
still certify those seats that did receive the required
40% and order a run off election for any seats that
didn't get the required 40%.
Is there help available
for conducting elections?
Government Handbook chapter on Elections
provides additional information. Also, if your local election
ordinance and/or the information provided here do not address
the issue, the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community,
and Economic Development, Division of Community and Regional Affairs Regional
local government assistance. There are also several publications
available that address elections.
Association of Municipal Clerks and Alaska
Municipal League may
also provide support in some instances.
What are the minimum mandatory
requirements after an election?
law a municipality must:
- conduct a run off election
if no candidate receives 40% of the vote for the office
of mayor or a designated seat, unless otherwise provided
by ordinance (AS
29.26.060(a)), or if no candidate in an
at large election receives greater than 40% of the
total votes cast divided by the number of seats to
be filled, unless otherwise provided by ordinance (AS
- declare the election results
at the first meeting to canvass the election, record
the results in the meeting minutes, and authorize the
results to be certified, unless otherwise provided
by ordinance (AS
- if appropriate, conduct
a run off election within three weeks after certification
of the election and publish notice of the election
for at least five days before the election date, unless
otherwise provided by ordinance (AS
the runoff election with only the two candidates receiving
the greatest number of votes for the seat (AS
- require a contestant to
pay all costs of an election recount if the count fails
to reverse the result, or the difference between the
winning vote count and losing vote count is more than
- require a person wanting
to appeal or seek judicial review to be a voter, exhaust
all administrative remedy before the governing body
before seeking judicial review, and, if seeking judicial
review, commence any court action within 10 days of
the date the governing body declares the election results
Constitution (Article V, Section 3) also
protects the right to contest an election and seek
judicial review of election practices.
Who enforces the rules?
The local governing body is
the enforcement entity and is responsible for providing
administrative review of the election process and/or actions
of election officials. If a person disagrees with a decision
of the governing body, they may file a lawsuit to request
judicial review of the decision. The governing body indicates
its review and approval of the election by certifying the
election in writing. A sample certificate of election is
available in the Additional
Resources section below.
When and how are the ballots
After the polls have closed
and everyone who was in line has voted, the ballots are
counted as follows:
- Election officials open
the ballot box and separate the questioned and challenged
ballots. These go to the municipal clerk for processing.
After the clerk has had an opportunity to verify voter
eligibility, questioned and challenged ballots are
counted during the canvass and certification of the
officials sort the ballots into groups of 25. Count
the total number
of ballots and record the number on the election judge's
report of preliminary election results.
- The actual counting is
split between each election judge. One election judge
reads the ballot, another election judge accounts for
each vote on the original tally sheet, and the third
election judge accounts for each vote on a duplicate
tally sheet. A sample tally sheet is available in the Additional
- Count the ballots in groups
of 25. Each time a vote is called, make a downward
stroke in groups of four and mark every fifth vote
with a diagonal stroke. Switch pen colors after each
group of 25. Verify that both tally sheets match.
- Votes for write-in candidates
are counted the same way that other votes are counted.
- Count only
those marks that are properly made and indicate clearly
intent. Improper marks or erasure marks invalidate
that section of the ballot where they appear. It's
important that voters understand that an incorrectly
marked ballot is a spoiled ballot and they should request
a new one. If more than one name is marked for a candidate
race, that section of the ballot can't be counted.
If no mark is made in a section, the rest of the properly
marked ballot is counted.
- After all
votes have been marked on the tally sheet, total the
tally marks for each candidate and any ballot propositions. Compare
both tally sheets to make sure they match. After recording
the totals, complete the election judges' preliminary
certificate of election. A sample certificate is available
in the Additional
- Place the counted ballots
in an envelope, seal the envelope, and give it to the
How is residency
confirmed, and what happens if a person's name does not
show up on the voter registration list?
of Elections determines a voter's residency
and right to vote under the rules spelled out in AS
15.05.020-.030 (see Title 15 of the Current
Alaska Statutes). Residents must be registered 30 days before the election if they
want to vote in the election. The Division of Elections
updates the voter registration list to reflect those
people who registered in time to vote in the election.
Residents who register to vote after the 30-day limit
will not be on the Master Voter Registration list.
If the person's name does not show up on the voter
registration list, they may vote a "questioned
ballot" or "challenged ballot." (Note:
Anyone wanting to vote must be allowed to. Local election
officials are not authorized to deny a person the right
to vote, per AS 15.07.010.) The day after the election,
the city clerk investigates the voter registration
status of the questioned/challenged ballots and the
absentee ballots. Using the information provided by
the clerk, the canvass committee counts any questioned
ballots determined eligible.
When does the canvass committee
meet and what happens during the meeting?
29.26.070(c)) requires that the canvass committee
declare the election results at the first meeting to
canvass the election, record the results
in the meeting minutes, and authorize the results to
be certified, unless otherwise provided by ordinance.
Your local ordinance should specify the day for the
canvass committee to meet. Usually, this is the
first Friday after the election.
The canvass committee reviews
the report of preliminary election results and the absentee
and questioned ballots and adds any votes determined eligible
to the total count and orders the results to be certified,
unless the election is contested. A sample Certificate
of Election is available in the Additional
How do you contest an election?
The procedure for contesting
an election should be spelled out in your local election
ordinance. Unless otherwise provided by ordinance, state
29.26.070) provides that anyone wanting to contest
an election must:
- Be a voter;
- File a written affidavit
with the municipal clerk stating the reason(s) for contesting
- Begin the contest before
or during the first meeting to canvass the election;
- Pay all costs of a recount
if the count fails to reverse the result, or the difference
between the winning vote count and losing vote count
is more than 2%;
a person wanting to appeal or seek judicial review to
exhaust all administrative
remedy through the governing body before seeking judicial
- If seeking judicial review,
commence any court action within 10 days of the date
the governing body declares the election results.
an elected official's term of office start?
your ordinance. State law (AS
29.20.150(c)) says the regular term of office begins
on the first Monday following certification of the election,
unless the municipality
has adopted an ordinance that sets a different date. AS
29.26.070(c) requires a governing body to authorize
the election results to be certified at the first meeting
to canvass the election
unless otherwise provided by ordinance. For example, a
municipality may canvass the election on the first Friday
after the election, then swear in the new members and reorganize
on the first Monday after the election.
29.20.600 requires a municipal official to affirm
in writing an oath of office to honestly, faithfully,
and impartially perform the duties of office before taking
office, and AS
29.20.150 provides that a member of the governing
body serve until a successor qualifies for office.
if there has to be a run-off election?
state law (AS
29.26.060), a run-off election must be held if no
candidate receives 40% of the vote for the office of mayor
or a designated seat, or if no candidate
in an at-large election receives greater than 40% of the
total votes cast divided by the number of seats to be filled,
unless otherwise provided by ordinance. If a run-off election
is required, it must be conducted within three weeks after
certification of the election and notice of the election
must be published for at least five days before the election
date, unless otherwise provided by ordinance. The run-off
election is between only the two candidates receiving the
greatest number of votes for the seat.
If the day
of the run-off election was approved when the U.S. Department
of Justice precleared your election ordinance, a preclearance
request is not required. However, if the ordinance hasn't
been precleared or if the date of the runoff election wasn't
included in the election ordinance, the run-off election
will have to be precleared since it's a special election.
election is conducted in the same manner as the regular
election except that the ballot will contain only two candidates
and will have no provision for write-in votes.
to the ballots after the count is completed?
the canvass board has counted all of the absentee and challenged/questioned
ballots that are appropriate to count, the election has
been certified, and any appeals or court cases are ended,
the ballots can be destroyed. Check the municipality's
ordinance to see if it specifies a date when the ballots
Do not destroy ballots until at least 30 days from the
time the election is certified or any appeals finally decided.
Do any other
agencies need to be informed of the election results?
requires the municipality to send the master voter registration
list with voters' signatures back to the Alaska Division
of Elections within 60 days of the election. The Division
uses the information to update the voters' voting history.
The Division will return the Master Voter Registration
List when the voting histories have been updated. The
information contained on the list will include those
who voted absentee ballots by mail, absentee ballots
in person, questioned/challenged ballots, and special
needs ballots in addition to those who voted at the polls
on election day.
Note: If the
Master Voter Registration List is used to keep track of
all these types of voting, the List can be sent to the
Division of Elections without adding any information or
including other lists.
specifically required, if your municipality is not exempt
from financial disclosure requirements, after the election
is certified, you may send a letter to the Alaska
Public Offices Commission with the names and addresses
of all newly elected officials.