Today marks two weeks until the borough’s municipal election day. It’s also National Voter Registration Day.
Borough residents have just started voting in person. The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot for that election is Sept. 29.
For state and national elections, the deadline to register to vote is Oct. 4.
That said, people shouldn’t wait until the last minute to cast their ballots, said Tiffany Montemayor of the Alaska Division of Elections.
“As soon as you feel like you want to vote, you should register to vote,” she said. “You should do it now. The same thing [goes] with requesting a mail-in ballot, you should do it as soon as possible because then they can get to you as soon as possible. And when it does arrive, fill it out and send it right back to us. That way, you know, you can be more confident that it’s going to arrive on time.”
Voter registration data from three weeks ago shows that over 16,000 residents in District 30 are registered to vote. Of those registered voters, around 5,000 are registered Republicans, while about 1,000 are Democrats. An additional 7,000 are Undeclared.
The district has 400 more registered voters this year than last year.
Statewide, there has been a significant increase in registered voters, from 580,000 last year to 590,000 this year. Montemayor attributes that growth partly to population growth in the state.
As of Monday, the state received almost 90,000 absentee ballot requests — the most they’ve ever had.
“I would say one of the biggest trends is that the age group 24 to 35 has remained sort of the largest group of registered voters in the state,” Montemayor said. “It’s been that way for a while.”
The Alaska League of Women Voters is running a campaign to target potential voters who are even younger. Juneau-based illustrator Pat Race is soliciting creative projects from young artists that spread the word about voting, including — but not limited to — jingles, videos and illustrations. He’ll hand out stipends to the artists he chooses.
“The younger crowd is the crowd that’s most likely to not know if they’re registered to vote, or not be as familiar with the system because maybe they haven’t participated in an election before,” Race said. “And so I think that we’re really focused on trying to reach people who maybe don’t know if they’re registered, or maybe are just operating under the assumption that they’re registered.”
He’s collecting submissions through a Google form online.
Race’s own illustrations are cute and colorful and feature cartoon moose and beavers. But submissions could be anything.
“We already have approved one applicant, and she’ll be doing some illustrations and a comic explaining how to register to vote,” he said. “And so I’m really excited to see what other people propose.”
This year, a confluence of factors are complicating the voting process. The pandemic, for example, has necessitated more stringent sanitary measures at polling places. Concerns about delays with the U.S. Postal Service have also prompted local leaders to encourage constituents to vote early.
Montemayor said Alaskans should vote early, if they can.
“And that's really true for Alaska because your absentee ballot doesn’t have to be postmarked until election day. By election day or on it. And so sometimes people who send their ballot right on election day,” she said. “I would just not be as confident.”
To check your registration status, visit vote411.org.
To register to vote, visit voterregistration.alaska.gov.
For updates about the Central Peninsula League of Women Voters, visit facebook.com/CentralKenaiPeninsulaLWV.