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Alaska announces elections timeline for vacant US House seat

March 22, 2022 GMT

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — State election officials on Tuesday announced plans for a June 11 special primary and an Aug. 16 special election to fill the U.S. House seat left vacant with last week’s death of U.S. Rep. Don Young.

The winner would serve the remainder of Young’s term, which ends in January.

Officials are planning for the special primary to be conducted by mail given the short timeline to hold the election, said Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, who oversees elections in Alaska. The special election, meanwhile, is expected to coincide with the regular primary.

The special elections to fill the House vacancy will be the first in Alaska conducted under a new elections process approved by voters in 2020. That means a primary in which the top four vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to the special election in which ranked choice voting will be used.

Meyer said having the special election at the same time as the regular primary would allow for the primary races and special election question to be on the same ballot. He said it could be a bit confusing since the special election would use ranked voting and the primary races would not.

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The state Division of Elections has on its website information on how the new process works.

The regular primary and November general election will decide who is elected to the House seat for a two-year term, beginning in January.

Young, who died on Friday, had held Alaska’s lone U.S. House seat since 1973.

Under state law, Gov. Mike Dunleavy must by proclamation call a special primary that is to take place 60 to 90 days after the vacancy occurred. The special primary is to be followed by a special election on the first Tuesday that is not a state holiday at least 60 days after the special primary. Dunleavy said the proclamation would be issued by Wednesday morning.

Under the timeline laid out Tuesday, the Division of Elections would target Sept. 2 for certifying the special election, according to documents released by the division.

State law allows for an election by mail in certain circumstances, and Meyer, a Republican, said it was his decision to go that route with the special primary.

This will be the first statewide by-mail election, said Gail Fenumiai, director of the Division of Elections. Some locations will be available for in-person voting, she said.