On Friday, the mid-afternoon line to vote at Anchorage’s Gambell Street polling location stretched out the door and into the sunny, chilly day. Voters had to wait a good half hour to get to a ballot.
As of Saturday, 62,847 Alaskans had already voted in the Nov. 8, 2022 midterm election, where a governor, a senator, and Alaska’s only congressional representative will be chosen, along with all seats for state House and Senate, except for Senate Seat T, the Nome-Kotz-North Slope area, which did not change substantially during redistricting.
That breaks down into 33,597 who have voted by absentee ballot, and 29,250 who have voted early in person. There are about 55,000 absentee ballots issued, which means another 19,000 or more have not yet been returned.
The number of total votes cast may be approximately 22% of the total expected by the time all the absentees must have arrived at the Division of Elections.
192,542 votes were cast in the Aug. 16 primary and special general election.
During the last comparable general election — 2018, a non-pandemic year and a midterm election — 285,009 Alaskans cast ballots for a 49.84% turnout.
If the turnout is comparable, then so far 22% of Alaska voters have already done their civic duty.
Rural Alaska, from Kaktovik to Adak, and all the villages in between, hasn’t shown up for the election yet, which is typical of those districts, where voters are not keen on early or absentee voting.
Bethel has the second worst turnout of any district in the state. That’s Congresswoman Mary Peltola’s hometown, although she actually lives in Goldenview, a south Anchorage area filled with luxury homes.
Turning out in higher numbers are voters on the road system. Homer District 6 has cast 2,818 votes, Kenai District 8 has cast 2,103, South Anchorage District 9 has cast 2,823, Eagle River District 23 has cast 2,349, House District 3 North Juneau-Skagway has cast 2,747 votes, while House District 4 Juneau Downtown has cast 2,608.
Unique on the road system is District 18, which is the area represented by Republican Rep. David Nelson. That strong military district that wraps around Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson has many soldiers and airmen living in it and often has a low turnout in the midterm elections; in fact, it nearly always one of the lowest turnout districts in the state. Only 639 have voted in that district, so far. Formerly known as District 15, it was once represented by former Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, who now is in court for allegedly committing voter fraud. Only 3,600 people voted in that district in 2018. Nelson faces tough competition this year from two extreme leftists and turnout for Nelson will be critical, as the area now encompasses the more liberal-leaning Government Hill.