“There was a lot of interest in this election,” said Sitka Precinct 2 captain Dorothy Orbison, and that may be reflected in high voter turnout — both in-person and advanced voting. 1,600 advance votes have yet be counted in the state House district representing Sitka, Petersburg, and outlying communities. (KCAW photo/Wilber)

Over 2,000 voters turned out to cast ballots in-person in Tuesday’s General Election in Sitka (11-8-22) – slightly behind turnout in the last two presidential elections in 2020 and 2016, and even behind the last midterm election in 2018.

However, the amount of advanced voting was second only to the 2020 presidential election. The specific number of early and absentee ballots for Sitka’s precincts hasn’t been posted by the state Division of Elections, but in House District 2, only about 900 early and absentee ballots have been counted (as of 2 p.m. November 9), leaving 700  advance ballots outstanding.

Statewide there are almost 55,000 outstanding ballots.

This was also the second time since the August special election that Alaskans used the ranked-choice ballot. Sitka election official Dorothy Orbison said that she could tell some voters were struggling to get the hang of it in Precinct 2.

Orbison – More than the typical number of spoiled ballots, which is a new process, so it’s understandable that people would take more than one chance at a ballot.

KCAW – Okay, so they’d come up and they’d put this thing (ballot) in and…

Orbison – They make an error, or they’ll catch themselves in the booth and go ‘Oops, I marked the wrong thing that I didn’t mean to do. I need to try this again.’ Yeah, more than usual, but you expect that. We’re learning.

Election day was notable in Sitka for the presence of an election monitor from the US Department of Justice, Disability Rights Section. Sitka was one of 64 election districts around the country selected for monitoring by the Department of Justice. Orbison says the monitors spoke with her late last week.

“The questions he asked me were about my training on the tablet that we have available for accessibility for voters who would benefit from using it,” said Orbison. “That’s all he asked me about.” 

The final results of the 2022 General Election won’t be available until the state Division of Elections tabulates the ranked-choice ballots on November 23. The delay allows all ballots postmarked and mailed by election day – even from overseas military personnel – to arrive in division offices. Nevertheless, some two-person races might start to show a clear trend next week, as early votes begin to be included in the totals. 

The race between Kenny Karl Skaflestad and Rebecca Himschoot to represent Sitka and neighboring communities in the state legislature, for example, would look more definite by next Tuesday, as would the race between Bert Stedman and Mike Sheldon to represent Sitka and Ketchikan in the state senate. However, with the addition of Wednesday’s absentee and early ballots into the vote totals, the leads held by Himschoot and Stedman on election night looks unassailable.