If preliminary estimates are correct, Tuesday’s municipal election had the highest turnout in nearly a decade.
City and Borough of Juneau Clerk Beth McEwen said Tuesday night that there were still about 2,500 votes to be counted between early, absentee and questioned ballots (such as people who didn’t vote in the right precinct or didn’t have ID on them when they voted). Those 2,500 votes would make for a 33.5 percent turnout in this election, with a total of more than 9,500 voters out of about 27,000 registered voters.
That would be the highest percentage in a municipal election since 2010, according to CBJ archives. In that election, 38.5 percent of registered voters hit the polling stations to vote for three Assembly spots, two Board of Education seats and three ballot proposals. This year’s race was for a mayor, four Assembly seats, three Board of Education seats and no ballot proposals.
In the 2017 municipal election, 28.2 percent of registered voters cast a ballot. According to the unofficial results released Tuesday night, the number of votes cast on election day alone this year (7,070) matched the total number of votes cast in 2017.
The remaining votes will be counted Friday, McEwen said, and the election results will be certified next Tuesday.
Turnout was higher in all 13 precincts. The Lynn Canal precinct led the way, with 39 percent of registered voters casting a ballot on election day alone. Lynn Canal also had the highest turnout in 2017, at 29.2 percent.
On Monday, McEwen said early voting totals had surpassed the 2017 early voting totals with a few days to go before the election. She offered a few explanations for why turnout might be higher this year than last year.
First, she said, a mayoral election tends to bring people out. Secondly, the general election in November might have people more politically minded.
McEwen also gave credit to the candidates in this year’s field for how active they were. A few of the candidates spoke after the results came in Tuesday about their efforts in this campaign cycle.
Beth Weldon, who won the mayoral election, and Areawide Assembly election winner Carole Triem both told the Empire that they made sure to hit the ground in areas they felt would be weakest for them. Weldon said she knew the Mendenhall Valley would support her, but knew downtown would likely swing in favor of candidate Saralyn Tabachnick.
“I am surprised at how well we did downtown,” Weldon said. “We did walk a big chunk of downtown and talk to people and that pays off.”
Tabachnick said she was pleasantly surprised by how many people she knew this year who were becoming politically active for the first time. She said some of her supporters had never voted but came to the polls to vote for her.
Even in the uncontested Board of Education race, where three candidates were running for three open spots, there were more votes cast than in 2017. Elizabeth Siddon led the way with more than 4,900 votes on Monday, which was more than 2017’s leading vote-getter Brian Holst (4,633). Siddon might end up being the first Board of Education candidate to get 5,000 votes since Sally Saddler did it in 2011 when she was the only name on the ballot. Kevin Allen, who ran in both years, got 1,400 more votes this year than he got last year.
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.