It’s not uncommon on Election Day to spot a candidate waving signs on the corner of the Kenai Spur and Sterling highways. That’s where Greg Madden was camped out around noon today.
Madden, who’s running for Alaska Senate to represent District P, had voted at Soldotna Prep School an hour prior. He said it was neat getting to vote for himself.
"I’m not used to seeing my name on the ballot," he said. "But I was in a hurry to get back over here, so I didn’t stop and savor it too long. Just get it done and moving on.”
Madden is running as an Independent, against incumbent Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak). District P stretches from Funny River down to the Southern Peninsula.
He said if he could have done something differently, he would have started running and campaigning earlier.
“It’s a lot more exhausting, it’s a lot more expensive than I ever imagined. But it’s a rush," he said. "So many people come out of the woodwork, I’ve never met them before and they’re saying, ‘I believe in what you’re saying, I want to help in what you’re doing.’ And people helping out in so many ways, I’m very grateful for all of that.”
Madden and his crew of sign-holders were a little cold this afternoon. So was Ron Gillham, who was bundled up under a cowboy hat on the corner of Bridge Access and the Spur.
“I got here about 10 minutes to 7:00 this morning, and it was dark and it was 8 degrees. So it was pretty cold," he said. "But for the most part, it’s been a really good day.”
Gillham is running for the House District 30 seat, to represent Soldotna, Kenai and Kalifornsky in Juneau. He was planning on voting later that afternoon at the Soldotna Sports Center.
“It does seem kind of odd when you look on a ballot and there’s your name," he said. "But I am looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to voting for Donald Trump again, hopefully we can keep him in office.”
Gillham is running against James Baisden, an independent from Kenai. While he identifies as a conservative, Baisden is running as a petition candidate.
“I voted absentee on Friday, and I dropped mine in the box over here in Soldotna," Baisden said.
He said the process was easy.
“This is the first time I’ve done it, because of everything that’s going on, like everybody else," he said. "And I got the ballot and went and dropped it off and was able to look online to show that it’s already been registered, so it felt pretty secure. I didn’t have any problem with any of it.”
Paul Dale also voted by mail for the first time this year. He’s running to represent Sterling, Hope, Nikiski and the eastern peninsula for House District 29. He’s from Nikiski and registered as “nonpartisan.”
“I realized a couple of things immediately and quickly, and one is it’s just really comfortable to do that in your own home at your own desk," he said. "And it occurred to me if I had failed to research a service area position or something like that, gosh, I could just take my time and look it up and think about it more and complete the process. So it was painless and easy and it may be what I’ll do from now on.”
Dale said he’s feeling relieved that Election Day is here, and he’s proud of his campaign.
His opponent, Republican incumbent Ben Carpenter, voted first thing in the morning in Nikiski. He had a back-up plan in case he couldn’t make it to the polls.
“I actually did request an absentee ballot just in case I came up ill and wasn’t able to get out in public," he said. "And the day arrived and I feel fine and I’m not ill, so I did it in person. Which is near and dear to my heart to go and do that, and the act of voting is special.”
Carpenter said he was aware when he was voting of the weightiness of the races on the ballot, statewide and nationwide.
“It is also strange to be standing in line with people, some of whom you know and some of whom you don’t, and know that they’re likely making a decision one way or the other on whether you’re going to win or lose and they might not even know you standing in line," he said.
Polls close at 8 p.m. Conclusive election results will likely be unavailable until Nov. 10, at the earliest, since the Division of Elections does not begin certifying results until a week after the election.