Opinion: Why vote?

I voted absentee on Monday by going to the Mendenhall Mall Annex after work. I was in and out in less than 10 minutes, even though I chatted a bit with the volunteers (about how awesome it was that I could vote early, naturally). Afterwards, I thought about the sad fact that only 1 out of 3 Juneau voters voted* in municipal races last year (.pdf).

Municipal races determine important local issues. This time around, there’s a proposition on sales tax for example, as well as an election of the people who decide what to do with those sales taxes. Here’s a sample ballot.

Not sure who you want to vote for? See candidate profiles linked below the fold.

Folks, get out and vote, because around this beautiful country, there are so many people who want to vote but can’t.

Voting rights are under seige
Coincidentally, here’s what I read yesterday about voting in Wisconsin, which instituted a “strict voter ID law” in 2011. From The Hill yesterday, Thousands in Wisconsin didn’t cast ballots over voter ID law confusion: study:

Thousands of Wisconsin residents in two counties did not cast ballots in last November’s presidential election due to confusion over the state’s voter ID law, according to new research.

The study, which was conducted by a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, determined that 11.2 percent of “eligible nonvoting residents” were discouraged by the state’s voter ID requirement. This percentage amounts to 16,801 individuals in Wisconsin’s Milwaukee and Dane counties, although as many as 23,252 individuals may have been dissuaded, given the survey’s margin of error.

The main conclusion of the study is that thousands, and perhaps tens of thousands, of otherwise eligible people were deterred from voting by the ID law,” Kenneth R. Mayer, the professor, said in a statement. [Emphasis mine. – Mary]

The right to vote has been curtailed for so many people in America, particularly since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County vs Holder in 2014. From the Rolling Stone last year, 2016: First Presidential Election Since Voting Rights Act Gutted:

This year, 17 states have new voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election cycle, including laws that make it harder to register to vote, cut back early voting and require strict forms of government-issued IDs to cast a ballot that millions of Americans don’t have.

Our ballot
The City and Borough of Juneau has provided links to each candidate’s profile and to information about the propositions on the ballot, and the League of Women Voters teamed up with the Juneau Empire to survey candidates as well.

Note that the Juneau Empire also has a search function, and as a local paper, it is a great place to find information about local candidates.

As a reminder, municipal elections are nonpartisan in Alaska, and while that requirement is interpreted differently in different Alaskan communities, here in Juneau the Tongass Democrats have decided not to endorse any candidates.

Where to vote
You can vote early / absentee downtown at City Hall and in the Valley at the Mendenhall Mall Annex:

City Hall – Conference Room #224 Foyer
Mondays – Fridays:
September 18 – October 2, 2017
8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Mendenhall Mall Annex
[Near State of Alaska Division of Elections Office]
Mondays – Fridays
September 18 – October 2, 2017
11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Saturdays, Sept. 23 & 30: Noon – 4:00 p.m.

If you plan to wait until Election Day (this coming Tuesday!) to vote, here is information from the City and Borough about where to vote:

On Election Day, Tuesday, October 3, the polls will be open at 7 a.m. through 8 p.m. Election workers will greet you at the following locations:

  • UAS Recreation Center, 12300 Mendenhall Loop Rd.
  • Nugget Mall, 8745 Glacier Highway
  • Auke Bay Ferry Terminal, 13.8 Mile Glacier Highway
  • Mendenhall Valley Public Library, 3025 Dimond Park Loop
  • Aldersgate United Methodist Church, 9161 Cinema Drive
  • Glacier Valley Baptist Church, 3921 Mendenhall Loop Rd.
  • Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, 4212 Mendenhall Loop Rd.
  • Douglas Library, 1016 Third Street
  • Alaska State Library, Archives & Museum Building, 395 Whittier Ave.
  • Northern Light United Church , 400 W. 11th Street
  • Bartlett Regional Hospital, 3260 Hospital Drive
  • Alaska Electric Light & Power (AEL&P), 5601 Tonsgard Ct.
  • Juneau Fire Station, 820 Glacier Ave.

All voters are registered in one of these 13 precincts and the voter’s name will appear on that precinct’s voter list. If you don’t know your precinct, call the Alaska Division of Elections at 1-888-383-8683. However, all voters in municipal elections may cast a ballot outside of their own precinct on Election Day by casting what is called a “questioned ballot” at any one of the other 12 precincts. This can come in handy if you are having a busy day and don’t have time to get to your home precinct. All questioned ballots cast by CBJ registered voters will be counted.

So, as you go through your day today, or tomorrow, or any time between now and next Tuesday, October 3rd: take the time to vote. It’s important.

– Mary

* Edited from “bothered to vote” which was super rude of me! Sorry for that – Mary

The views in this opinion piece are those of the author. They are not official positions of TongassDemocrats.com or the Tongass Democrats.

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