This year, as you all know, voting and elections seem to be on the forefront of everyone’s mind. You can’t escape it. And believe it or not, it’s not all about the president.
Here in Alaska we have so much in play. We have a U.S. Senate and U.S. House seat that we are voting on. We have two ballot measures that are very contentious and have strong ramifications to our state if passed or not passed. I think even more importantly, there are 51 out of the 60 House and Senate seats in Juneau that are up for grabs.
And let’s not forget all the judges that are up for retention. (To review judges’ performances, go to the Alaska Division of Elections website under Judicial Council.)
But this year, I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a plan for voting.
As of today, over 115,000 absentee ballots have been requested. As of Thursday, Oct. 15, over 22,000 absentee ballots have been completed and sent back to the state.
The last day to register for an absentee ballot for Alaska is Oct. 24. If you are voting absentee, the state just came out and ruled you don’t need a witness signature — the rules keep changing.
I voted last week. For the first time ever, I checked to see that my ballot was received. One important site that can help you with voting is the Alaska Division of Election website. I went to this site and checked to make sure that my ballot was turned in and it was. Of course, being the year it is, I called the Division and checked with them to see if my ballot was accepted. (Yay-no errors!)
At this point there are some ballots that haven’t been accepted. Common errors are signature errors, wrong dates, wrong identifiers, leaving information out. It is extremely important to read and re-read all the instructions and then double check what you did.
So maybe your plan is to go vote on Nov. 3. I strongly urge you to go online and look at the sample ballot for your area at the Division’s website. You should know what is on the ballot so it’s not a surprise.
For example, did you know that we have seven presidential candidates running for office? And you might not be sure how you want to vote for certain candidates or ballot measures, so there is still lots of time to research who lines up with your values.
I personally feel that it is crazy to just vote party line, especially in our state where around 60% of the voters are registered as nonpartisan or undeclared.
In Alaska, if you have not registered to vote yet, you can still vote for president and vice president on Nov. 3 by going to the polls that day and filling out a voter registration and then completing a question ballot.
Voting is not easy. It takes an effort.
On voting days we celebrate equality because it is the one day that each voice is equal to everyone else’s. There is no difference between genders, age, wealth, skin color, disability … we’re all the same. We have one vote each and we should use it so that we can stand up and say my voice matters and what I have to say is just as important as everyone else’s.
Vote for what you want to see for the future of our country, our state and our world. So, if you have voted, or you have a plan, maybe add one more thing to your list and talk to your family, friends and neighbors and talk to them about the importance of voting.
Even though we all have different opinions, please use your voice to be heard and to say, “I matter and this is what I believe in!”
Alex Koplin, Homer
By Alex Koplin