Conducting a General Municipal Election

Revised July 01, 2013


Conducting an election is a fairly easy process if you have been careful to follow all the steps in the process and in the correct order. If you have not already reviewed the LOGON chapter on "Preparing for a General Municipal Election," you may want to do so to verify that all the prior steps have been followed. For information on what happens after election day, see the LOGON Chapter on "Certifying the Election."

Other than a very few minimum mandatory requirements, the Alaska Constitution and State statutes allow local governments a great deal of flexibility in how elections are conducted. State law does, however, require that a governing body prescribe rules for conducting an election (AS 29.26.010). Your Municipality's election ordinance will explain the election process for your community. Unless there is a local ordinance providing otherwise, the local municipal election must be held on the first Tuesday in October (AS 29.26.040). If a municipality fails to follow the local election ordinance and applicable state law in conducting an election, the election could be voided and a new election ordered.


Elections are one of the most important functions performed by government. They are the means by which a person can exercise choice and affect outcomes and they provide feedback to elected officials on public evaluation of a candidate or elected official's performance or ideas. There are a lot of details to pay attention to in the process. Although it may seem that all the required steps make the process more complicated than it needs to be, the reason for these is to ensure and protect each individual's right to vote.

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.

On the morning of the election the election supervisor, or the chairman of the election workers, announces that the polls are open. Usually this means that at the morning time determined by local law, the official in charge announces, “The polls for the general municipal are open.

The normal flow of events for a voter in the election process is:

  1. The voter enters and announces name.
  2. The voter provides one piece of identification to the election worker. This ID could be one of, but not limited to, the following: official voter card, driver's license, passport, birth certificate, hunting or fishing license, senior citizen's ID card, Indian health service ID card, military ID card, signed polling place ID card, college ID card, or union ID card.
  3. The election worker locates the voter's name on the Precinct Register.
  4. The voter signs above the printed name next to the "X" in the box provided.
  5. The election worker checks one of the blocks on the Precinct Register regarding identification. VC stands for voter's card; OI stands for other identification; and PK stands for personally known. In order for an election worker to say that he personally knows a person, they must be able to call that person by first and last name.
  6. If a voter has a change of address, ask the voter to vote a questioned ballot and to complete a voter registration form. Address changes written on the Precinct Register will not be processed.
  7. After the voter has signed the Precinct Register, they are given a ballot.
  8. The voter goes to a polling booth or private place to mark the ballot(s).
  9. The voter deposits the ballot in the ballot box unless he requests one of the election worker to do so for him.

If a person wants to vote, but doesn't show up on the precinct list, they should vote a "questioned ballot." Anyone wanting to vote must be allowed to. Local election worker are not authorized to deny a person the right to vote, per AS 15.07.010. 

  1. The person fills out an "oath and affidavit envelope" stating that he or she is a registered voter.
  2. The person is then given a ballot and instructed to return to an election worker after voting.
  3. The ballot is placed in a plain, unmarked envelope that is then placed in a questioned ballot envelope.
  4. The "affidavit envelope" is sealed and signed by the election worker and is then placed in the ballot box.

Before these ballots are counted, the municipal clerk must check with the Division of Elections to see if the person is registered to vote. If the person is registered, the ballot is counted. If the person is not registered to vote in the municipality, the ballot is not opened and is not counted. Send a letter to the person explaining why the ballot was not counted.

The polls must remain open until the closing time stated in your local ordinance. (This is usually 8:00 PM). When the polls close, the election supervisor, or clerk, announces, “The polls for the general municipal election are now closed.” From that point on, only voters waiting in line may cast ballots. If no one is waiting, the polls are closed immediately.

After the polls have closed and everyone who was in line has voted, the ballots are counted as follows:

  • Open the ballot box and separate the questioned/challenged ballots. These go to the city clerk for processing.
  • Sort the ballots into groups of 25. Count the total number of ballots and record the number on the ballot "tally sheet."
  • One election judge reads the ballot and one election judge tallies on the original tally sheet. The third election judge tallies on the duplicate tally sheet.
  • Count only those marks that are properly made. Improper marks or erasure marks invalidate only that section of the ballot where they appear. 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.
  • Ballots are tallied directly on the tally sheets. Ballots are counted in groups of 25. Each time a vote is called, a downward stroke is marked. Mark every fifth vote with a diagonal stroke. Switch pen colors between each group of 25 and verify that both tally sheets match.
  • If there are write-in candidates, the candidate's name must be written in the blank space AND the mark must be made next to the name.
  • Count the tally marks for each candidate race and any ballot propositions. Compare both tally sheets to make sure they match. Record the totals on the ballot tally sheet and complete the "Tally sheet".
  • Place the counted ballots in an envelope, seal the envelope, and give it to the city clerk.

The ballots will be locked in a secure location and a “preliminary elections results” report can be posted, the posting should state the date and time when the results will be certified and the process to contest the election.

At this point the election workers are able to go home and get some much needed rest.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Additional Resources


Sample documents:

Recommended web site search topics:

  • Alaska Division of Elections
  • Alaska Association of Municipal Clerks (AAMC)
  • Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC)
  • U.S. Civil Rights Division, Voting Rights Section
  • Infobase Alaska Statutes
  • Infobase Alaska Administrative Code

Applicable Laws and Regulations

Alaska Constitution - Article V

  • Section 1 - age and 30-day residency requirement
  • Section 2 - prohibitions against being allowed to vote
  • Section 3 - methods of voting, secret ballot
  • Section 4 - authorizes the legislature to prescribe registration procedures and establish voting precincts and election districts.

Alaska Administrative Code

  • 3 AAC 18.010(d)(1) election required for Community Revenue Sharing payment
  • Alaska Statutes (See Current Alaska Statutes)
  • AS 04.16.070 alcohol sales on election day
  • AS 15.05.020 determination of residency rules
  • AS 15.05.030 loss and restoration of voting rights
  • AS 15.07.010-.200 voter registration
  • AS 15.10.020 determination of precinct boundaries
  • AS 15.15.090 designation of polling place
  • AS 15.60.010 definitions (moral turpitude)
  • AS 29.06.320 charter provisions, election districts, nonpartisan municipal elections
  • AS 29.10.200 limitation on authority to enact provisions other than those provided by statute
  • AS 29.20.060-.220 assembly composition and apportionment
  • AS 29.20.130 city council composition
  • AS 29.20.140 qualifications of members of governing bodies
  • AS 29.20.150 term of office
  • AS 29.20.170 vacancy in office
  • AS 29.20.180 filling a vacancy
  • AS 29.20.220-240 election, term, and qualification for office of mayor
  • AS 29.20.280 vacancy in the office of mayor
  • AS 29.20.300-310 election of board members
  • AS 29.20.380 administration of municipal elections, compliance with the Federal Voting Rights Act
  • AS 29.20.470 election on manager plan
  • AS 29.20.520 repeal of manager plan
  • AS 29.20.630 election of state or school district employee to municipal office
  • AS 29.26.020 requirement for ordinance providing for nomination or declaration of candidacy procedure, prohibition on serving in more than one office
  • AS 29.26.030 notice of elections, requirement for 20 days notice
  • AS 29.26.040 election date and ordinance requirement for prescribing a different date
  • AS 29.26.050 voter qualifications, ordinance requirement for enacting local election district or service area restrictions
  • AS 29.26.060 runoff election, ordinance requirement
  • AS 29.26.070 election contest and appeal, ordinance requirement
  • AS 29.26.240-360 recall
  • AS 39.50.010-200 financial disclosure requirements for elected officials