News-Miner opinion: The next local election in the Fairbanks region is just over a month away, with the marquee race being the election of a mayor for the city of Fairbanks.
Will Mayor Jim Matherly win a second three-year term? Or will one of his three challengers in the Oct.1 election prevail?
That’s not the only race to be decided.
Who will win the seats on the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly and school board? And on the city councils of Fairbanks and North Pole?
The outcomes all depend on you. But you can’t have a say unless you are registered to vote.
The deadline to register to vote in the October election, or to make changes to your registration, is 11:59 p.m. Sunday.
Registration information is available from the Alaska Division of Elections at bit.ly/2zEegHb. You can register online or in person at the Division of Elections office, 675 Seventh Ave., Suite H3, in Fairbanks.
Most likely, though, you are already registered to vote — even though you didn’t do it yourself. That’s because of the automatic voter registration law approved by voters in the 2016 statewide election. Under that law, a resident is automatically registered to vote when applying for the annual Alaska Permanent Fund dividend unless the person opts out of the voter registration when applying for the dividend. And you do get asked whether you would like to register when are applying for a driver’s license or renewing a license at a Division of Motor Vehicles office.
You can check your voter registration status here: myvoterinformation.alaska.gov.
It’s good to be a registered voter, but it doesn’t mean much if that registration isn’t put to use by actually voting. As a borough, we need to do better regarding election participation.
Here’s the turnout percentage among registered voters for the past several years in the annual October boroughwide election: 2010, 23.7%; 2011, 24.7%; 2012, 23.5%; 2013, 14.4%; 2014, 16.9%; 2015, 25.3%; 2016, 17.9%; 2017, 31.3%; and 2018, 22.3%.
Take a few minutes to register to vote or to check your status with the Division of Elections. The registration deadline is 11:59 p.m. Sunday. The state office won’t be open on the weekend, however, so online will be your only option on those days.
With that task done, all you need to do is remember to vote in the Oct. 1 election.