What others say: Presidential contest attracts new voters

  • Monday, March 28, 2016 10:01pm
  • Opinion

Whatever one’s opinion on the candidates running for president this year, Alaska’s presidential preference poll and caucus have shown a higher level of civic engagement by residents who are often detached from the selection process. Voter numbers from Saturday’s Democratic caucus and the Republican presidential preference poll earlier this month were at their highest levels ever.

Some with a more pessimistic temperament might be inclined to see the increased participation in closed primaries as evidence of heightened polarization of U.S. national politics. Certainly, there’s some evidence that is at least partially the case. The partisan gulf between Republican and Democratic candidates is certainly as wide or wider than it has been in recent memory — perhaps as wide as in any presidential election since 1964, when Barry Goldwater’s strongly conservative views alienated more moderate Republican voters.

But there’s also a more positive way to look at the primary contests in Alaska. At Pioneer Park on March 1 and at the Carlson Center on Saturday, long lines stretched hundreds of feet out the entrance of the polling place, and many of those participating were participating in the voting process for the first time. Whether because of age, apathy or some other reason, many Alaskans never register to vote, even when the process is relatively quick and easy. But this year, a newfound engagement with the process led many of those Alaskans to come off the sidelines and not only register their preference for U.S. president, but to wait in long lines for as long as an hour and a half to do so.

The newly registered voters’ motivations are surely varied — some are excited for a particular candidate, some strongly opposed to the candidates of the other party. Others feel it’s just time to weigh in and play a part in choosing who will continue to the general election. Whatever the reason, it’s hard to cast an increase in attention paid to the political process as a negative development. Here’s hoping these newly motivated voters will continue to maintain their involvement in civic affairs and help select elected officials who are representative of all Alaskans.

— Fairbanks Daily News-Miner,

March 28

More in Opinion

Jodi Taylor is the board chair for Alaska Policy Forum. (Courtesy photo)
Private school, state reimbursement: family choice

By Jodi Taylor Alaskan parents have a legitimate right to choose the… Continue reading

t
Opinion: It’s time for bold action to protect our fisheries

Our fisheries feed the world and sustain our unique cultures and communities.

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Hard to fill positions?

Paying poverty wages to support staff, secretaries and custodians is unacceptable yet routine behavior by our district

A copy of the State of Alaska Official Ballot for the June 11, 2022, Special Primary Election is photographed on May 2, 2022. (Peninsula Clarion staff)
Choosing a candidate – Who will best represent us in D.C.?

Voters are encouraged to do homework before casting a vote

Tourists watch as one of two cubs belonging to an 18-year-old sow black bear crosses the path between groups of tourists visiting the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center on Wednesday, July 18, 2018. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Tourists have pushed us to critical mass in parts of Juneau

I don’t go to the glacier in the summer now to hike or watch bears.

Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships. (logo provided)
Point of View: A few ideas for Mental Health Awareness Month

What are some things you can practice this month and subsequently apply to your life?

Sens. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, left, and Robert Myers, R-North Pole, read through one of 41 amendments submitted to the state’s omnibus budget bill being debate on the floor of the Alaska State Senate on Monday, May 9, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: The Alaska Senate’s foolish gamble

“All these conservative people just spent all our money”

Smoke from the Swan Lake Fire impairs visibility on the Sterling Highway on Aug. 20, 2019. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: Alaskans should prepare for wildfire season

Several past large fire seasons followed snowy winters or unusually rainy springs

Alex Koplin is a founding member of Kenai Peninsula Votes. (courtesy photo)
Voices of the Peninsula: 1 candidate dined, 47 to go

By Alex Koplin Last month, I wrote a satirical piece for the… Continue reading

The logo of the Homer Trails Alliance.
Point of View: Connecting our community through trails

Homer is booming with housing development and the viability of long-standing trails is threatened