Opinion: Voting is essential for a functional democracy

Voting in primaries allows for getting good candidates on the general election slate Nov. 8. Exert your right as a voter early! Alaska’s primary election on Aug. 16 will be unique in a few ways. Generally in a primary election, you vote for one candidate in each position coming open. For example, in the August 16 primary we will vote for one candidate from the roster for Alaska governor, one candidate for U.S. Senator, one candidate for U.S. Representative, and one of the candidates for Alaska Senate and House running in your district. What is unprecedented about the Aug. 16 primary is that there will also be a ranked choice voting segment on the ballot (the first since Alaskans passed Ballot Measure 2 in 2020) in which we rank the top four candidates to temporarily replace U.S. Rep Don Young, for the balance of 2022. Our state legislators decided that waiting until next January 2023 was too long for Alaska to remain unrepresented in the U.S. House of Representatives. This is why mail-only ballots for this special election are hitting our mailboxes now. In the special election (ballots must be posted-marked by June 11, 2022) you will choose ONE candidate only (48 have been qualified to run) and can vote for anyone regardless of your registered political party . So it’s important to really look at this roster and consider not just flashy ads and name recognition, but the candidate’s values and capability to represent the best interests of the people of Alaska, as well as their understanding of, and respect for, the function of government. The top four candidates from this special mail-only election will appear on the August 16 primary ballot and you will get to rank them in order of preference. Even if your top candidate doesn’t win, there is a good chance your second or third choice could win. The more candidates you vote for (up to 4), the more you maximize your voting voice. To research the candidates, you can start with the Alaska Division of Elections. Their website has excellent tutorials on how rank choice voting works and soon we will be able to see a sample ballot for the August 16 primary. Candidates to replace Don Young for a new two-year term beginning January 2023 have until June 1 to file, so the sample ballot cannot be created until a few weeks after that deadline. Keep in mind that if your candidate for the temporary replacement for Don Young (the current mail-in ballot with June 11 deadline) does not make the top four to advance to the primary, your candidate may also be filing for the 2-year job, and will likely appear again on the Aug. 16 ballot, giving you another chance to send your candidate to Washington, D.C., Voting is essential for a functional democracy. Please vote at every opportunity.

• Dr. Emily Kane has provided nutritionally-based primary care services in Juneau for nearly 30 years. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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