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The primary for Alaska's future: voter registration first step for residents to have voices, decisions heard in August

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Posted: Friday, June 20, 2014 12:00 am

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner editorial: 

Alaskans face a momentous decision in the Aug. 19 statewide primary election.

The primary ballot, as usual, includes candidates vying to represent their party for state and federal office in the November general election. But the August ballot this year also includes a vote on whether to repeal the oil tax legislation approved by the Legislature last year and signed into law by Gov. Sean Parnell.

Both sides in the debate over Ballot Measure 1, which if approved would repeal the new oil tax law and return the state to an oil tax system put in place under then-Gov. Sarah Palin, argue that the future of Alaska is at stake.

Alaskans who don’t register to vote won’t have the opportunity to have a say in that future, however.

The deadline to register to vote is one month from today.

Information on registering to vote or on updating your registration is available from the Alaska Division of Elections website (www.elections.alaska.gov) or at the division’s Fairbanks office, located at 675 7th Ave., Suite H3.

Aside from Ballot Measure 1, the August election also includes a highly charged race among Republicans to be the candidate to try to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich in November. 

There are also several contested party primary races for legislative seats representing Interior communities.

It’s a packed August ballot.

So who’s already registered to vote?

Division of Elections statistics as of June 3 show that 489,294 Alaskans are already registered. Looked at by age, the largest bloc of those, at 20.8 percent, consists of Alaskans age 25 to 34.

What about the gender split? The numbers show 247,446 men as registered and 239,195 women as registered.

What’s the party affiliation breakdown of those Alaska voters?

The party with the greatest number of registered voters is actually no party at all. 

It’s the undeclared voters who constitute the largest grouping, at fully 36.7 percent of the total. Combine the undeclareds with those listing themselves as nonpartisan, and you get a majority of registered voters — 53.53 percent — not registering with any political party or group.

Of officially recognized political parties, however, Republicans continue to have the strongest presence, at 27 percent of the total and just about double the number of voters who identify themselves as Democrats.

Where do you put yourself?

Griping about government, about elected officials and about those who are trying to get elected for the first time, is a right afforded under our system of government. 

But, although it’s not required, it does come with the responsibility of voting.

And the first step in voting is to register. 

Be sure to do it before the July 20 deadline.

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