At long last, the election is almost here. After a long, bruising campaign cycle, Alaskans will head to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 8, to decide who will be Alaska’s governor, U.S. senator, U.S. House representative, and who will occupy nearly every seat in the Alaska Legislature. It’s as important as an election could be in a non-presidential year, and we should vote with that level of seriousness — and encourage our family, friends and neighbors to do the same.
Even before the business of politics was as consistently bruising as it has been lately, it took a thick skin to sign up as a candidate, something we often forget in assessing political hopefuls’ shortcomings. In the days of Super PACs, virtually unrestricted campaign spending and hyper-partisanship, that has become even more true. Though we may disagree with many of the candidates on the ballot, we should be grateful for their willingness to lift their banner and represent their supporters in the boxing ring of a general election campaign.
We should be thankful, too, for the advent of Alaska’s open primary and ranked choice voting system this year, which is already paying dividends in helping candidates run on their ideas rather than their adherence to political party orthodoxy. And although plenty of candidates are still operating like they did under the old bludgeoning-friendly system, we’re already seeing Alaskans respond well to those candidates who respect their opponents’ supporters and make the case for themselves as a second choice. If this trend continues, campaigns can become more about the places we can come to agreement rather than separating into diametrically opposed camps that demonize the opposition. And in this day and age, we need all the common ground we can stake out.
If you’re still on the fence about candidates or need more information, one great resource is the ADN’s 2022 voter guide, which contains candidate question-and-answers in all of the statewide races, as well as other election information. You can also find the state’s election pamphlet, which contains information on district-level races for the Legislature, at the Division of Elections website.
If you haven’t yet made a plan for how, when and where you plan to vote, now is the time to do so. Bear in mind that political districts have changed this year, and so have some places where we go to vote. If you’re unsure where you’re registered to vote or where you should cast your ballot, you can find that information on the Division of Elections website at myvoterinformation.alaska.gov.
If you’re unable to vote at your specified polling place on Election Day, ballots for every Alaska House district will be available at Anchorage City Hall, Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, the University of Alaska Anchorage Student Union Building and the state elections office at 2525 Gambell Street — polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and so long as you’re in line to vote by the time the polls close, you’ll be able to cast your ballot. There are also absentee polling places in communities outside Anchorage; you can find the full list at the Division of Elections website.
One thing to bear in mind this year as we wait for results at the end of the evening on Election Day: As has been the case in the past, races where the margins are close or multi-candidate races where no one breaks 50% in first-choice selections won’t be called until after late-arriving absentee and questioned ballots can be added to the total and voters’ second, third and fourth choices, if necessary, can be tallied. We’d all prefer to know every result as soon as possible, and in many races the outcome will be obvious, but in a fraction of contests, that won’t be possible to know on Election Day, and making sure everyone’s vote is counted and properly tallied is of paramount importance.
This is an important election — we hope you’ll take the time to make your voice heard, and encourage those you know to do the same. We may not get the outcome we’re hoping for in every race, but the more Alaskans vote, the more the people we elect will be an accurate representation of the will of the people. And in the end, that’s what we should all be hoping for.