Vote this November in the General Election. Registered voters should turn out in force to make a difference with their votes. In the August Primary Election only 88,817 of 515,714 registered Alaska voters cast ballots—a 17.2 percent turnout. As an aside to contrast this year’s poor Primary Election participation, in Alaska’s 1992 General Election, 82.9 percent of registered voters cast ballots—the highest percentage of voters so far.
By October 3 the number of registered voters had risen to 522,767, and if Ballot Measure No. 1 passes that number could automatically increase in coming years. The measure is a novel approach to ensure more Alaskans are easily registered to vote by automatically registering eligible voters when they apply for a Permanent Fund Dividend and requiring a person to opt out if they don’t want to be a registered voter. Ballot Measure No. 1 does nothing that actually causes more people to vote, although by registering more voters it could have the effect of increasing the number of people going to the polls.
The other ballot measure also comes with possible consequences. Ballot Measure No. 2 changes the Alaska Constitution by allowing general obligation bonds for postsecondary student loans. This might sound like a good idea and perhaps it is; however, recently some general obligation bonds have been linked to risky financial strategy—to the tune of $3.5 billion as a way to meet unfunded state pension fund liabilities—but those are being called pension obligation bonds, not general obligation bonds.
Also on the ballot and with probably more far-reaching consequences are the candidates for a president, US senator, and US representative to the national political arena, as well as state senators and representatives. The biggest thing readers need to do is vote; and vote as if the development of Alaska’s natural resources depends on it—it does. Alaska is a natural resources state and whomever is elected will have a direct impact on whether or not and to what extent Alaska’s natural resources are developed.
Know before you go (to the polls). Research who the candidates are, what they’ve said, where they stand on issues, when they’ve demonstrated exceptional leadership, and how they’ve promoted (or dissuaded) responsible development of natural resources. Vote informed—it’s a big deal.
And so is the November issue of Alaska Business Monthly. Two huge special sections: Mining and Natural Resources, along with columns and articles across the Alaska economy and our monthly fixtures. The team at Alaska Business Monthly has put together another really great magazine—enjoy!
Susan Harrington, Managing Editor
Alaska Voter Turnout Statistics
General Elections since Statehood
|Year||Registered Voters||Votes Cast||Percent Turnout|
Chart Data: Alaska Division of Elections
This article first appeared in the November 2016 print edition of Alaska Business Monthly.