Photo by Megan Pacer/Peninsula Clarion Soldotna residents Tom Huff, foreground, and Hope Haselow, background, pick up stickers that read "I voted today" after turning in their ballots during the state primary election Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016 at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. Compared to last year, organizers said voter turnout at the complex was slow throughout the morning and early afternoon.

Photo by Megan Pacer/Peninsula Clarion Soldotna residents Tom Huff, foreground, and Hope Haselow, background, pick up stickers that read "I voted today" after turning in their ballots during the state primary election Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016 at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. Compared to last year, organizers said voter turnout at the complex was slow throughout the morning and early afternoon.

How they voted: Residents take to the polls for Alaska’s Primary Election

  • By ELIZABETH EARL, MEGAN PACER and KELLY SULLIVAN
  • Wednesday, August 17, 2016 1:00am
  • News

Tuesday afternoon of central Kenai Peninsula residents took to the polls to place their vote for Alaska’s Primary election.

Traffic was slow most of the day at the polling station at Nikiski Fire Station 1 but began to pick up by mid-afternoon.

Voters enjoyed the sunshine on the way in and the plates of cookies inside, chatting with the election workers as they picked up their ballots to vote in the primary. Only one candidate for the Alaska House of Representatives seat in District 29, which encompasses Nikiski, is running — incumbent Mike Chenault. Voters have a choice for U.S. Senator and U.S. Congressman, as incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) both have challengers from both parties.

Nikiski resident Steve Croft described his vote this election as “Republican, 1,000 percent.” He said he wanted to see the state government cut back on its spending rather than reduce the Permanent Fund Dividend or look for other revenue.

“They’re just spending too much,” Croft said. “We didn’t have any of these fancy things like soccer fields, and we turned out fine. It’s big government spending.”

Gale Croft, his wife, said she disagreed with Gov. Bill Walker’s decision to cut the PFD this year in half. Senior citizens, who often live on fixed incomes, depend on that disbursement, and it wasn’t fair for him to take the PFD without a vote of the people.

“They just need to cut back on their budget, the same way we have to,” Gale Croft said. “Some of these big state projects, they just don’t need to be doing. There’s a lot of money in the management, personnel, that doesn’t have to be.”

Voters began to trickle into the North Peninsula Recreation Center, the polling place for another precinct of Nikiski, around mid-afternoon. The election workers said it had been slow, with less than 150 people passing through by 3 p.m. However, the parking lot began to swell as more people swung through around 4 p.m.

Skip White, a voter at the North Peninsula Recreation Center, said he voted Republican in the primary, supporting Chenault, Young and Murkowski. Things could be going better in Juneau, he said.

“I don’t particularly like the job Walker’s been doing,” he said.

Many of the voters that turned out to Kasilof Fire Station were tight lipped about their choices Tuesday, and disclosed some disappointments with the process.

Without making her picks too public, Donna Heames, 62, said she “voted for people who have the same ideals as I do, the ones who are fairly liberal. That kind of covers it.“

Sharon Blades, 68, of Clam Gulch would only say she voted as an independent, but might not have made the drive at all had she known how short her list of options would be.

Kasilof resident Kevin Fulton, 61, said also said he was disappointed with the ballot.

“We don’t have many people to vote for,” he said. “It hardly seems worth setting up this popsicle stand.”

Fulton did disclose his selections of U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, Paul Seaton, R-Homer, and Congressman Don Young, in part because of their long-time service to the state, and he didn’t recognize their competition.

Regardless, Fulton said he believes it is essential to cast a vote every election.

“I always do. If you can’t vote, then you can’t bitch,” he said with a laugh.

Kasilof resident Patti Murray, 59, said she too turns out to vote without fail. Tuesday, however, she said she felt a little out of the loop. She said she voted Democratic, and picked Steven Lindbeck, but didn’t recognize anyone else’s name on the list in front of her.

Murray said she believes the state could do a better job sending out pamphlets ahead of an election to help further inform citizens. Additionally, she prefers not to vote by party, but by person, and having closed primary ballots limits her options.

“It is very unfair in this state,” Murray said.

A younger voter, Leslie Meyer, 25, made it out mid-afternoon Tuesday to make her picks on the Republican ballot. After exiting the polls, she said she was considering swapping parties.

While she wouldn’t say who, Meyer said he choice was “the lesser of the evils” with a laugh, and left it at that.

Meyer said she tends to gravitate toward candidates who are open and honest, as long as she agrees with their policies, which as of late, hasn’t been often.

“Everyone is splintered, everyone is going really far to the right, it is the same with the presidential election,” Meyer said. “But you can’t vote third party or your vote doesn’t count. That is not how our system works.”

Some Democratic voters in Soldotna sounded more pleased with their options.

Natalie Merrick of Soldotna said she voted for Shauna Thornton as a Democrat.

“I think she brings a great fresh perspective, and I like that she listens,” she said. “And I just think it’s really important, if ever there was a time to really get involved.”

Merrick said she’s happy that she got the chance to get out and vote, and that she wishes it was something everyone did.

“No one can complain if they don’t vote,” she added.

Also giving her vote to Thornton was Ridgeway area resident Jane Fuerstenau. “Even though she was unopposed I just really feel strongly that she understands the changes that we need in our government. And I have known her for years at various places that she’s worked. I’m familiar with her and I really trust her.”

Many voters at Kenai’s precinct 1 polling station, located in the Old Carrs Mall expressed the sentiment, popular this election season, against established politicians.

“I’m basically into ‘no incumbents,’” said Kenai resident Ron Horvath. “Clear the house.”

Horvath clarified later that he had voted for one incumbent, saying “I want Lisa because she’s enough either way that she’ll do what’s best for the state. Don should just go away.”

Other Kenai voters were of the opposite opinion.

“I pretty much vote for someone who has a lot of experience,” said Bill Thompson. “I like seniority if they’re doing a good job representing me and my way of thinking. New blood isn’t always the answer.”

Kenai resident Sherese Christoffersen said Tuesday’s primary was the first election she’d voted in.

“I think I voted fairly — they don’t teach you how to vote in high school, that’s for sure,” Christoffersen said. “My whole family’s Democrat. Honestly my parents were a big influence on my vote. I just followed suit, basically.”

 

Reach Kelly Sullivan at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Leslie Meyer waits in line to vote Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016 at the Central Emergency Services Station 6 in Kasilof, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Leslie Meyer waits in line to vote Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016 at the Central Emergency Services Station 6 in Kasilof, Alaska.

Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion A sign advises voters where to stop in to cast their ballot during the primary election Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016 at Nikiski Fire Station 1 in Nikiski, Alaska.

Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion A sign advises voters where to stop in to cast their ballot during the primary election Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016 at Nikiski Fire Station 1 in Nikiski, Alaska.

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