Students line up for democracy

The lines stretched through the lobby and into the Math Department of the College of Arts and Sciences Building. People sat hunched over, stood against walls and by the cafÈ, or any other place they could find, intently scribbling in Scantron bubbles. For two days, people from all 40 voting districts in Alaska exercised an annual right as citizens. They voted.        

The Division of Elections at the University of Alaska Anchorage offered in-person absentee voting Nov. 6-7. It didn't matter where in Alaska a voter was from. If people didn't know their district, or didn't have their voter identification cards, it wasn't a problem. They got in line and the paperwork was done for them.

UAA volunteers, students and other members of the campus community were handing out clipboards and organizing the Alaskans who took the time to come out and vote. According to the unofficial election results posted in the Anchorage Daily News, 49.20 percent of Alaskans voted. This figure, however, does not include all ballots.

Here at UAA `it was a huge turnout,” said Sherry Thompson, freshman and chairperson of the election workers for UAA. “I loved it. Until the Division of Elections gives us the numbers, we don't know the exact turnout; 1,400 to 1,500 is my guess.”

Nationwide, based on initial numbers on election night, approximately 50.1 percent of eligible voters cast ballots, according to an Associated Press news release dated Nov 8. At UAA, the turnout was, to the casual eye, impressive. Because of the absentee nature of the voting, voters from anywhere in the state could take advantage of the CAS voting booths.

“We got a lot of people from Wasilla and District 7 in Homer,” Thompson said. We used all 25 ballots from that district and had to call for more.”        

Other students on campus also took part in the election process, not only by voting, but also by joining either their party, candidate or issue advocates at Election Central at the Egan Center.

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Steven Siebe, a UAA sophomore, was at Election Central on Nov 7.

“There was the general craziness,” Siebe said. “The alcohol barrier broke down around 10:30 p.m. Once a group figured they had won, they came parading in with about 30 people in an entourage. Nader supporters even brought a band. I was there with `No on 4.'”

Although the confidential ballots wouldn't reveal whom UAA students favored in the election, it has been reported that a great majority of the voters marked the correct boxes for their candidates. Students who still have “vote fever” will have another chance to be heard during the student general elections later this month.