Public Radio for the Central Kenai Peninsula
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Support public radio — donate today!

Why are borough residents not voting? Local groups want to find out

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Voter turnout in the Kenai Peninsula Borough is usually very low.

But this year’s numbers were particularly grim, even for borough standards. Voter turnout was just below 12 percent in the 2021 municipal election.

Local voter engagement groups want to know why. They’re holding a forum Thursday to get a sense of how they can increase voter turnout ahead of the next election.

“We thought we’d start by asking voters and nonvoters why they do and they don’t vote," said Carrie Henson, president of the Central Kenai Peninsula League of Women Voters. The league is one of the groups holding the forum.

Henson said they’re asking people who don’t vote to talk about why.

“And if not voting is actually a vote in itself," she said. "If they’re not voting because they feel like their vote won’t matter.”

Henson said it’s hard to know what’s keeping borough residents from casting their ballots without having those conversations with them.

One trend that’s already evident, however, is that it does matter what’s on the ballot. Voter turnout is higher in national and state election years. 

“And this year, we didn’t even really have any state items or candidates to vote on," Henson said. "So it was just the local election. And I feel that a lot of people think it’s not as important. But for me, it’s completely the opposite.”

Still, even in national election cycles, the Kenai Peninsula falls far below U.S. averages.

Borough turnout was 28 percent in 2020. Across the U.S., it was 67 percent.

The voters forum is Thursday evening between 6 and 7 p.m., held over Zoom. Representatives from the League of Women Voters will be there, as well as Kenai Peninsula Votes, a non-partisan group working to boost voter turnout. Assembly members Lane Chesley and Mike Tupper, both of Homer, will also be in attendance.

You can register for the Zoom here.

Sabine Poux is a producer and reporter for the Brave Little State podcast of Vermont Public. She was formerly news director and evening news host at KDLL in Kenai.

Originally from New York, Sabine has lived and reported in Argentina and Vermont and Kenai.
Related Content