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Anchorage Implements Vote-by-Mail Tracking System

Voters in the Alaska city can now track the status of their mail-in ballot and receive automatic alerts through the BallotTrax system. The new system will be used for the first time during the April 5 municipal election.

Shutterstock/CL Shebley
(TNS) — Anchorage voters can now sign up to receive automatic tracking alerts for their ballots in the city's vote-by-mail system.

The city is using the vendor BallotTrax for the first time this year in the April 5 municipal election. It will allow voters to more easily keep tabs on the status of their ballot and is a "best practice" for vote-by-mail elections, according to the city's acting deputy clerk of elections, Jamie Heinz.

BallotTrax is a mail ballot locator and notification system used by more than 400 U.S. counties and by seven states and Washington, D.C., according to its website.

After signing up at, voters can get automatic updates via email, text or phone call — or a combination of alerts, according to the clerk's office.

"It was determined that is easier for voters than having to call the hotline between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. They can set it and forget it, and then they will get notified," Heinz said.

Here's when notifications are sent through BallotTrax:

  • When a voter's ballot package is mailed from the city to the voter.
  • When the ballot return envelope is received by the U.S. Postal Service.
  • When the city's elections center receives it, whether through the mail, a secure dropbox or an in-person vote center.
  • BallotTrax will tell voters if the ballot is accepted for counting once the ballot envelope passes the signature verification process.
  • BallotTrax also notifies voters if there is an issue with the ballot return envelope, such as with the signature, Heinz said.

"You can even choose the hours of the day that you would like to receive that information so that it doesn't wake you up at 6 or 8 in the morning," said Assembly member Pete Petersen, chair of the Ethics and Elections Committee.

If a voter is notified that there is an issue with their ballot envelope, they can contact the city's elections center by phone or in person.

Anchorage voters also still have the option of voting in person at City Hall, Eagle River Town Center and the Loussac Library; those locations will open starting around nine days before election day.

The city for years used an in-person voting system until it switched to vote-by-mail in 2018. A contingent of Anchorage voters and some candidates for municipal office have expressed distrust in the vote-by-mail system, and have called for the city to return to poll-based voting during testimony in past Assembly meetings.

"A lot of people voted for a number of years in poll-based elections and so they may not feel quite as comfortable with vote-by-mail yet," Petersen said. "This might be something that would have them feel more comfortable about vote-by-mail and that was another reason why we decided to try it."

©2022 the Alaska Dispatch News, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.