UAF precinct has abysmal voter turnout

By Julia Taylor

Sun Star Reporter

The Oct. 7 Fairbanks borough election only counted 21 voters according to Fred Wirth, co-chair of UAF’s precinct.

There are 510 registered voters in UAF’s precinct, which makes the percentage of registered voters who showed up just over four percent.

Even when you include the other 29 people who voted that were registered in other precincts and chose to vote in the Patty Center, (including the four election workers) the numbers don’t get much better.

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Raphael Armstrong, left, helps Elliott Jackson register to vote. Armstrong works for Field Works, a political organization that assists with voter registration. Photo by Julia Taylor

“We didn’t break double digits today until after 2 p.m.,” Cheris Haymond-Totter, Wirth’s co-chair, said.

Wirth said that turnout is never as good as those in the city of Fairbanks, but that he enjoys working the precinct because he gets to help so many people vote for the first time, and explain how the voting system works in Alaska.

Turnout is often low, partially because students don’t change their registrations after they graduate from college, as well as that Alaska makes it more difficult to get off the voter rolls than it is to sign up to vote.

Haymond-Totter had a hard time getting her son taken off the voter rolls after he had moved to Maryland. It took over four years, and he had to personally send a letter to the state of Alaska; even then, Haymond-Totter’s letter to the state wasn’t enough to have them remove him.

While departed students may be part of what keeps turnout low for UAF’s precinct, generally under 20 percent according to Wirth, apathy is also a large part.

“Even when Barrack and Sarah were on the ballot, it was under 20 percent, and it was 60-70 percent in the rest of town,” Wirth said. “The primary in August, when students weren’t even yet back on campus, we had more than 200 people vote.”

Both Wirth and Haymond-Totter will be back at their posts on Nov. 4, and they hope that more students will show up to vote.

 

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