Despite high rates of early voting in Anchorage, plenty of people turned out for in-person voting in Alaska’s largest city.
A couple minor issues appeared on Tuesday morning, including at Service High School.
A technical glitch in the scanning system made it so many morning voters had to put their ballots in the pile to get counted by hand. John Bevis says it didn’t really affect his experience.
“Looks like we need to do some repair or get some new voting machines so that they can do it,” he said.
Tiffany Montemayor, a spokesperson for the Division of Elections, said that the scanner got replaced and that it didn’t really affect voting. She said the division is using new voting machines and a new information system, but that minor technical glitches pop up every year.
Poll observers from the Republican and Democratic parties were ready to be dispatched at a moment’s notice. But both parties reported that things went pretty smoothly as of Tuesday afternoon. Democracy is working in Alaska, they said.
While there were plenty of sign-wavers around town, there were also some advocates just there to remind people to vote. In Mountain View, a group organized by Alaska Civic Engagement State were waving signs and dancing to hip hop music to remind people to vote. They also had information about who to call if they had questions or problems at election sites.
Kengo Nagaoka, civic engagement coordinator for the Alaska Center passed out coffee and hot cocoa to volunteers. He said the East Anchorage neighborhood has historically been overlooked, but this year, advocates are hoping voter registration drives will boost turnout.
“We know we have a lot of potentially new voters, people who are just getting registered to vote here in Mountain View. And so we see it’s a really important place for us to get the message out,” he said.
At the Boys and Girls Club down the street, there was a steady stream of voters. Lee One Thal says he was hoping for a more celebratory mood in the polling place, but that’s been dampened by the pandemic.
“I would have liked to see that kind of friendliness to it. But I guess voting is not a whole thing anymore,” he said.
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Most voters had made up their minds by the time they arrived at the polls. But there were also some of the elusive undecided voters. Voter Mariah Clemens says she was mostly undecided when she walked into the polling booth on Tuesday afternoon.
“I don’t want to sound bad, but it’s kind of ‘eeny, meeny, miny, moe,’” she said, referring to her choice for president.
At Hanshew Middle School, voter Chelsea Alletson cast her ballot just before noon. She lived the last ten years in England, where she has dual citizenship, but never bothered to vote absentee. Now that she’s moved back to her hometown, she wanted to vote in person. She tried to vote early as over 100,000 Alaskans already have, but the line was too long, so she waited till election day.
“It was insane,” she said, “Yesterday when I went I just wasn’t prepared to maybe stand in line for hours.”
For others though, like Rodman Putt, voting early wasn’t something he even considered.
“It’s like having Christmas on a different day than the 25th. It’s November 3, here I am – it’s voting day,” he said.