Alaska's Ballot Counting System

Ballot Counting Process

How are Ballots Counted at the Precinct?

  • Alaska uses three different methods to count ballots at the precincts on Election Day as follows:

  • Optical Scan Units - Optical scan units are used in larger precincts in Alaska. After the voter votes a paper ballot, the voter will insert their ballot into the optical scan unit. After the polls close, the election board ends the election and the results are transmitted to the statewide database.

    Hand Count - Hand counting of ballots is done in rural precincts with small numbers of voters. Voters vote a paper ballot. After the polls close, the election board hand counts the ballots using prepared tally books and calls the results into the regional elections office. The regional elections office who transmits the results to the statewide database.

    Touch Screen Unit - Each precinct in Alaska has a touch screen voting unit available that is intended for voters who are blind, disabled or who have reading difficulties and, in targeted precincts, for language assistance. Touch screen units used in Alaska have a voter verifiable paper trail that allows the voter to verify the printed version of their ballot prior to casting the ballot. After the polls close, the election board ends the election and the results are transmitted to the statewide database or called into the regional elections office who transmits the results to the statewide database.

  • Learn more about Alaska's counting system.

How are Absentee and Questioned Ballots Counted?

  • For federal and state elections, early vote, absentee and questioned ballots are counted using the optical scan voting system. This is performed at the regional office by a bi-partisan board.

  • During Regional Educational Attendance Area and Special Local Elections conducted by the State of Alaska, absentee and questioned ballots will either be hand counted or counted using the optical scan system depending upon the size of the election.

Ballot Counting Schedule

Polling Place

  • Ballots voted on Election Day at a polling place are counted, recorded and transmitted to the statewide ballot tabulation system on Election Night after the polls close.

Early Vote

  • Early vote ballots received in regional elections offices through Monday, the prior to Election Day, will be counted Election Night. The remaining early vote ballots will be counted on the seventh day after Election Day.

Absentee Ballots By-Mail, By Electronic Transmission, In-Person and Special Needs

  • Absentee ballots processed and reviewed through a date designated by the director of elections will be counted Election Night. All remaining absentee ballots will be counted on subsequent counts as scheduled by the director of elections. In accordance with Alaska law, ballots must be counted no later than 15 days after Election Day.

Questioned

  • Questioned ballots are counted after Election Day on subsequent night counts as scheduled by the director of elections. In accordance with Alaska law, ballots must be counted no later than 15 days after Election Day.

Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB)

  • FWAB ballots processed and reviewed through a date designated by the director of elections will be counted Election Night. FWAB ballots received in which the voter was sent an official state ballot are set aside. If the voter’s state official ballot does not arrive in time to be counted, then the FWAB ballot is counted, if applicable. In accordance with Alaska law, ballots must be counted no later than 15 days after Election Day.