As Alaskans, we are fortunate that the framers of our constitution had the wisdom and foresight to begin our state constitution with our Declaration of Rights.
The first section of Article 1 of the Alaska Constitution provides that "[t]his constitution is dedicated to the principles that all persons have a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and ... that all persons are equal and entitled to equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law...."
The second clause of Article 1 provides that "... all persons have corresponding obligations to the people and to the State."
Another section in our Declaration of Rights provides that "[n]o person is to be denied the enjoyment of any civil or political right...."
One "political" right includes our right to vote. The right to vote is one of the most precious democratic rights preserved for the people of our city, state, and country.
These two sections from the Alaska Constitution read together suggest that citizens of Alaska and Anchorage have both the political right -- and responsibility -- to vote.
When people get frustrated with government, they often believe that voting doesn't matter. But the most important tool citizens have is the right to vote. When citizens vote, it shapes the future of our government through selection of our elected officials or approval of specific issues.
The specific issues on the municipal ballot on Tuesday, April 1 are found in the are discussed in the League of Women Voters Ballot Review and in other resources. There are seven ballot propositions, two charter amendments, six Assembly seats, and two School Board seats on the ballot, as well as a number of service area board seats.
Although these issues might seem to be fairly routine, these matters affect our everyday lives. Please take the time today to study the issues and decide to vote.
Voting in the April 1st Municipal Election began on Monday, March 17 with Early and Absentee Voting. Citizens have been able to vote at City Hall and the Loussac Library, or at the Chugiak Senior Center beginning since Monday March 24. Voting in person on Election Day occurs at 122 neighborhood precinct polling locations, at the Loussac Library, at the UAA Student Union, and at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Go to www.muni.org/elections for more detailed information.
Exercise your right -- and responsibility -- to vote in the April 1, Regular Municipal Election.
Barbara A. Jones is the Anchorage municipal clerk and oversees municipal elections. Jones is a member of the Alaska Bar Association and a member of the Law Related Education Committee and served as chair of the committee for eight years.
By BARBARA JONES