In Alaska, as in the rest of the United States, we're about as free as we can be when it comes to voting.
If we're citizens, meet the minimum qualifications and register, we can vote. Or we can skip it.
In many Anchorage city elections, that's what the majority of voters do. Skip it.
That's our choice. To skip voting is a sorry choice, one that shrugs at both the right and responsibility of citizens in a representative democracy. But required voting, as some people have suggested as a solution to low turnouts, is just un-American. Coercion would skew the vote; honest results depend on willing voters. Some who will be here only a short time might not vote in local elections because they figure it's not their place -- they won't be here to live with the consequences. That's a rational decision.
But most of us of voting age have a stake here, and thus an adult obligation. As the old maxim says, to govern is to choose. To self-govern is to choose for ourselves, to put vote to voice, decision to opinion. That takes time and effort.
Put another way, do you want to give your proxy to that knucklehead down the street who votes in every election?
Local and state governments have made it more convenient to vote in recent years, with weeks of early and absentee voting. Anchorage is no exception; our voting in today's election began in mid-March.
Governments can make voting easier, but it takes voters to make it happen. So between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. today, those of us who haven't cast ballots early will have 13 hours to do so.
There's plenty to decide this time around. Much of it is the nuts and bolts of running a city -- road, school and parks bonds; road service areas. We don't have the marquee issues of a mayor's race or gay rights ordinance, but given the recent battles over land use rules and labor law, there is some fire in the Assembly races.
And given our recent shuffle of school officials, we might be wise to give a little more thought to our School Bard races.
To exercise our freedom is our work as citizens today. We've got all day to clock in. Let's get it done.
BOTTOM LINE: It's Election Day in the city. Citizens, vote.
Where to vote
Polling place locator: 269-8683.
Polling places with all ballot types available:
• Stevens International Airport
Domestic (South) Terminal
car rental area
• Z.J. Loussac Library
3600 Denali St.
• University of Alaska Anchorage
3211 Providence Drive
Campus Student Center