Early and absentee voting has already opened for Juneau’s municipal election.
Now, I love voting in person and still get a little thrill when I shuffle behind the privacy curtain juggling my ballot, cardboard shield and wallet as I put my ID away, because I know that even though I’m just one voice, my voice will play a part in determining the outcome. I’m the scold who nags all of her friends to vote, but I know that even with the generous timeframe our hardworking election staff provide (7 a.m. to 8 p.m.), it can be inconvenient or downright burdensome to detour to your precinct on a busy Tuesday — provided you remember where your precinct is. And though I love to cast my ballot on “the actual day,” Murphy’s Law means that we’re all just one flat tire or forgotten wallet away from getting derailed and missing the chance to vote altogether.
Which is why this year, I’ll take advantage of the opportunities to vote before Oct. 1 — either by stopping by City Hall’s conference room 224 sometime between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, or by going to the Mendenhall Mall Annex, which is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. I really hope that you’ll join me, either at one of these early voter stations or by going to the polls on Election Day.
As of last year’s municipal election, there were 27,067 registered voters in the City and Borough of Juneau, but just over 9,000 ballots were cast. That’s 35.5% voter turnout, and 2018 was actually an impressive improvement on 2017’s 28.2%! I would like us to do better than a third of eligible voters exercising their right and I urge every voter to take the time to make their voice heard. There are decisions being made with every ballot, and this year is no exception, with a contested race for school board and three ballot measures regarding the best way to tackle and fund upkeep of both Centennial Hall and the JACC. By voting, you are taking an active part in making those decisions and helping to decide what is best for our city.
Voting is a right, and is perhaps one of the most fundamental rights, since it is through voting that we select our lawmakers and pass the legislation, resolutions, and binding agreements that shape our daily lives. Not every opportunity to vote is a matter of life and death, but exercising that right and opportunity to vote is a lot like exercising our muscles — it’s reinforcing a habit, refusing to take our rights and freedoms for granted, and leaves our body, the collective citizenry, healthier as a result.
Signing in on the voter rolls is like swiping in with my gym pass, each little oval I fill in completely is another rep. Legally, there are no equivalents to the gym selfie, since we can’t post a marked ballot on social media, but I do make sure to get a snap of my “I Voted” sticker every time. I hope to see all of your faces with that post-vote glow as well.
• Kirsa Hughes-Skandijs is a resident of North Douglas and a member of the League of Women Voters Juneau Board.