Juneau voters veer from statewide choices

Juneau voters veer from statewide choices

Locally, Alyse Galvin and Mark Begich receive majority of support

If it were up to Juneau voters, Alyse Galvin would be Alaska’s lone Representative in Congress, and Mark Begich would be the state’s next governor.

Voting trends from Election Day show voters in House districts 33 and 34 have opinions that significantly veer from the rest of the state. Juneau voters did join the rest of the state in one aspect: turnout. Voter turnout this year was significantly lower than it was in the 2014 midterm election. Statewide, turnout stood at 236,972 voters at the end of Election Day. That’s down by almost 50,000 votes from four years ago.

This year’s tally doesn’t include question ballots or absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day, but those additions are expected to narrow the gap, not eliminate it. A final tally is expected by Nov. 23.

In 2014, House District 33 voters cast 9,356 ballots. This year, voters delivered only 7,900 choices to ballot boxes. That figure includes advance votes cast before Election Day. District 33 includes Douglas, downtown Juneau, Haines, Skagway, Klukwan and Gustavus.

Examining the Juneau districts alone doesn’t eliminate the decline: In Juneau precinct No. 2, for example, voters cast 734 ballots this year but 922 four years ago. Precinct No. 2 includes much of downtown Juneau and the Casey-Shattuck Addition, better known as the Flats.

In the Mendenhall Valley, House District 34 voters were no more immune to the decline in turnout than their downtown counterparts. In 2014, voters there cast 8,752 ballots. This year, 8,064 votes have been tallied so far.

The Lynn Canal precinct of House District 34 (Out the Road) again had the highest voter turnout in Juneau, with 40.2 percent of registered voters casting ballots.

In the race for governor, both House districts favored Democratic candidate Mark Begich over Republican winner Mike Dunleavy. Support for Begich was stronger in House District 33, which cast 67 percent of its votes for him. The Lemon Creek precinct was the only precinct in the district to favor Dunleavy, though votes from Haines No. 2 precinct have not yet been reported. Problems with a voting machine there have forced the Division of Elections to fly equipment back from Haines to Juneau in order to count votes, and the results were not available by the end of the workday on Wednesday. That precinct has 276 registered voters.

In House District 34, four of seven precincts favored Dunleavy, but early voters favored Begich by a margin of 704 votes, tilting the district in Begich’s favor.

Almost the same situation took place in the race for U.S. House. Independent candidate Alyse Galvin had an 858-vote margin over Republican incumbent Rep. Don Young among early voters in House District 34 and carried the district by 1,107 votes. Galvin campaigned door to door in the district on the Sunday before Election Day. Among Election-Day voters, she won five of seven precincts.

In House District 33, there was no contest: Galvin won every precinct (including those outside of Juneau), had a 1,315-vote edge among early voters and defeated Young by better than a 2:1 margin.

That situation was not mirrored across the state, however, and Young cruised to victory and a 24th term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The results of Tuesday’s election appear to confirm that even though a majority of voters in the two House districts are registered as independents or nonpartisan voters, they tend to favor progressive candidates for office.

That had effects in local legislative races. In Senate District Q, which covers both House districts, Democratic candidate Jesse Kiehl won 15 precincts, with one not reporting results. His challenger, independent Don Etheridge, won three precincts, all in the Mendenhall Valley.

In the race to represent House District 33, independent Chris Dimond lost to Democrat Sara Hannan. Dimond lost his home precinct of Douglas to Hannan but won four other precincts, including Twin Lakes and Lemon Creek. Hannan won five precincts and had a 499-vote edge among early voters.

In the decision on Ballot Measure 1, District 33 was one of only six statehouse districts to approve.

Juneau voters also approved of all three judges on the ballot, ensuring their retention for another term.


• Contact reporter James Brooks at jbrooks@juneauempire.com or 523-2258.


Juneau voters veer from statewide choices

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