OPINION: Our voice, our vote: Make a plan to cast your ballot in November’s election

The Alaska Federation of Natives’ annual convention is a powerful time to reconnect with our community members from across Alaska. The last two conventions have been virtual, so we are thrilled to be together in person to share big laughs, long hugs, shop beautiful arts and crafts, and simply take time to connect with each other.

The convention is a wonderful time to connect and socialize with dear friends and family, but it also serves as the principal forum and voice for the Alaska Native community to address critical issues of social, cultural and economic concern in public policy and government.

As thousands of official delegates and participants from membership organizations across the state convene in Anchorage this week, it’s time to remind everyone to have a plan to exercise their fundamental right to vote.

Alaska Native people represent approximately 22% of Alaska’s statewide population. Our vote is our voice — and if all Native people vote during a normal turnout year, the Native vote has the ability to influence the direction of the state. We must exercise our rights, make our voices heard, and continue to help the fight for equality that so many Alaska Native leaders have pushed forward.

As Election Day approaches, we urge you to make a plan to vote. You can request a ballot by mail and vote from the comfort of your home, but attention to detail when completing your ballot is very important as improperly filled ovals or incomplete information can result in disqualified ballots. The deadline to request a ballot by mail is Oct. 29, 2022. If you vote by mail, the ballot envelope must be signed, a friend must sign too, and you must provide an identifier — voter number, Alaska driver’s license number, date of birth, or last four digits of Social Security number.

The ballot must be postmarked by Election Day. If you live in rural Alaska, it might not be postmarked until it gets to a hub city, so either mail the ballot early or ask the postal worker to hand-cancel the stamp. Also, note that the price of postage has increased for ballots, so make sure you have 84 cents worth of postage — two stamps — on your ballot.

Another option is early voting, which begins on Oct. 24, 2022. Early voting is available at polling locations statewide. Most rural locations only have ballots for voters in that particular House District, but all voters can vote in any regional office. All precinct voters can even cast their vote at the Cook Inlet Tribal Council Absentee Polling Station at 3600 San Jeronimo Drive, Nov. 1–4, and Nov. 7, from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Election Day is Nov. 8, 2022. Polls are open from 7 a.m.–8 p.m. Make sure to confirm your polling location, as some have changed. To prepare for Election Day, it is often helpful to review a sample ballot to make sure you are ready to make your voice heard.

Alaska’s election system includes a general election with ranked choice voting, which gives our vote more power. Rank your favorite candidate as your first choice. The other rankings allow you to communicate preferences among the remaining candidates. You can rank as few or as many candidates as you want, but remember that ranking gives your vote more power. Make sure you fill in only one oval per column and per row.

Ranking backup choices never hurts your first-choice candidate’s chances of winning. If your first-choice candidate can’t win, your vote will count for your highest-ranked backup choice.

On election night, only first-choice results will be released. If a candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes, they win. If not, the Division of Elections will wait until Nov. 23 to receive all the votes from rural Alaskans, college students, and uniformed and overseas voters, and then conduct the ranked choice voting count.

Make sure your voice is heard in the Nov. 8 general election. Get out the Native vote.

Michelle Sparck is director of strategic initiatives, including the Get Out the Native Vote campaign, for Cook Inlet Tribal Council.

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at) Send submissions shorter than 200 words to or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.

Michelle Sparck

Michelle Sparck lives in Bethel.