Not only does summer in Alaska go by at lightning speed, but with most Alaskans trying to cram a year’s worth of work and outdoor fun into 15 weeks, give or take a week or two, it’s understandable if things get dropped or forgotten.
Here’s one thing all Alaskans need to put on their list as too important to miss: the Aug. 19 primary election.
While the primary might seem like merely an opportunity for diehard political junkies to get a fix or the party faithful to duke it out to pick their candidates for the general election, this year’s primary also will include Ballot Measure 1, a referendum for Senate Bill 21, relating to Alaska’s oil and gas production tax.
Voting “yes” will reject — or repeal — the law passed by the Legislature.
Voting “no” will approve the law passed by the Legislature in 2013.
That in itself might be a little confusing because it means a “yes” vote says “no” to SB 21, while a “no” vote shows support for SB 21. That potential for confusion should inspire Alaskans to be educating themselves now about the ballot measure.
Alaskans will face three other important ballot measures in the general election on Nov. 4: Ballot Measure 2 — an act to tax and regulate the production, sale and use of marijuana; Ballot Measure 3 — an act to increase the state’s minimum wage; and Ballot Measure 4 — an act protecting Bristol Bay salmon and waters.
But the question of whether SB 21 should be repealed is the lone measure on the Aug. 19 ballot — mixed in, of course, with who Alaskans want to appear on the general election ballot.
No matter where you think you stand on SB 21, most Alaskans should be able to agree, it’s an important issue to the future of the state. It’s problematic that it’s on the primary ballot since the primary tends to attract fewer voters than the general election.
That’s why Alaskans need to get the Aug. 19 primary on their calendars now and resolve to vote. If you’re not registered to vote or need to change your registration, you have until July 20 to do that. But because July 20 is a Sunday, we’d encourage you not to wait. Do it now. The Homer city clerk’s office can help you.
If you know you’re going to be out of town or busy on Aug. 19, you can cast an absentee ballot or vote early. Early, in-person voting begins Aug. 4. Absentee ballots can be cast by fax or electronically. The Alaska Division of Elections website has all kinds of information that can help you (see elections.alaska.gov/).
It’s a busy election year. Alaskans will be voting on the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Mark Begich, the U.S. House seat currently held by Don Young, governor and lieutenant governor.
Don’t let the din of the political ads wear you down. Alaskans need to remind themselves that being a good citizen takes some work, and dig in.
Making sure they are registered to vote and doing some research on Ballot Measure 1 are good places to start.
What are you waiting for?