In order to vote in the upcoming municipal elections, Kodiak residents must be registered to vote by Sept. 1. But Kodiakans will have plenty of opportunities to register before the deadline, according to Lauri Wilson, Region I elections supervisor with the Alaska Division of Elections.
Kodiak Island Borough voter turnout has declined. In 2018, only 13% of registered voters in the borough cast their ballots, amounting to 1,266 votes cast, out of 10,039 registered voters.
“People often like to complain about how things turn out, community-wise, so it’s important that people have a say and try to impact the outcome,” said KIB Mayor Dan Rohrer. “People sure like to vent and are frustrated, but they’re not willing to take time out of their busy schedules to vote.”
In 2017, the overall voter turnout rate was 18%. It was 24% in 2016; 19% in 2015; and 22% in 2014.
Bells Flats regularly produces the lowest turnout among Kodiak’s precincts, with a rate between 7% and 11% in the last five years. Ouzinkie and Old Harbor regularly produce the highest turnout among Kodiak’s precincts, with rates often exceeding 30%.
Kodiak residents may register in person at the borough clerk’s office or online at https://voterregistration.alaska.gov/. Residents may print a form at that site and turn it in by fax, mail or to the city or borough clerk. As long as the form is postmarked on or before Sept. 1, voters will be able to cast their ballots in the Oct. 1 election, according to Wilson.
Two candidates are vying for the borough mayor’s seat, three candidates are vying for two borough assembly seats, and two candidates are vying for one open school board seat.
More information about the candidates will be available in a pamphlet delivered by the borough to every household in the coming weeks, according to the borough clerk’s office. Profiles of the candidates will appear in the Kodiak Daily Mirror as the election nears.
Wilson said voters should receive their voter ID card three to four week after submitting their registration form. However, voters may present other forms of identification in order to cast their ballots, including an Alaska driver’s license, state identification card, passport, military ID card, birth certificate, hunting or fishing license, a current utility bill, bank statement, or paycheck.
In order to verify voter registration status and polling place, voters may check online at https://myvoterinformation.alaska.gov/ or call the Region 1 Elections Office at 907-465-3021.
Applications for absentee voting by mail are available on the Kodiak Island Borough website. Applications must be received at the borough clerk’s office seven days before the election.
Any person with a disability who is unable to travel to a polling place can vote through a personal representative ballot. A personal representative ballot may be requested from the clerk 15 days before the election, up to and including the day before the election, or from an election precinct voting official on the day of election, according to the borough website.
In-person absentee voting was made available to residents of remote villages in the borough for the first time last year, and will be made available again this year, beginning Sept. 16. More information about in-person absentee voting will be released by the borough clerk’s office in the coming days.
Polling stations are available in Old Harbor, Ouzinkie, Port Lions and Larsen Bay. However, Karluk and Akhiok do not have their own polling stations, and voters from these villages have historically needed to fly to Larsen Bay in order to cast their ballots. In-person absentee voting is intended to provide residents of all villages a more convenient voting option.