Please stay home on August 19. On October 7, go hiking. When November 4 rolls around, watch a movie.
If fewer people vote, each vote matters more. We don’t think you need help to stay away from the polls — only 19.1 percent of registered Juneau voters showed up to last year’s municipal election — but just in case, stay home next election day.
It’s more important than ever that you do so, because this year you have the potential to turn not just Juneau or Alaska, but the entire United States.
You see, the U.S. Senate is pretty closely divided. There are 53 Democrats, 45 Republicans and two independents, both of whom side with Democrats on most issues.
This fall, 36 of those Senate seats are up for election. Twelve of those seats are going to go to Democratic candidates; 16 are going to Republicans (barring something happening to completely throw off the math, of course.)
Now, if you’ve followed our addition, that leaves eight seats that could go either way. Of those eight, four — Louisiana, Georgia, Arkansas and Kentucky — are leaning Republican. The remaining four — North Carolina, Iowa, Colorado and us here — are pretty much a coin flip at this point.
Campaigns and the candidates will decide those four races, and those four races may decide control of the Senate. With the House of Representatives firmly in control of the Republican Party, control of the Senate will decide control of Congress.
That makes Alaska’s voters the most important in the nation.
What about North Carolina, Iowa and Colorado?
Those states have a lot more people than Alaska does. North Carolina has more than 6.5 million registered voters. Iowa has more than 2.1 million. Colorado has more than 3.5 million.
In comparison, Alaska has fewer than 490,000 registered voters — and most of them don’t vote. In the 2012 general election, fewer than 302,000 Alaskans went to the polls.
That was a presidential election year, which typically increases turnout. This year, there’s no presidential ballot, which means turnout may drop.
We’ll connect the dots for you: Fewer than 302,000 Alaskans may decide control of the U.S. Congress.
Just this week, New York Times writer Nate Cohn did the math and discovered that the nation’s 50 million Hispanic voters will have less influence on this year’s federal elections than the 63,700 registered Alaska Native voters in the Last Frontier.
That’s why it’s so important that you stay home on Election Day. Those of us who vote understand the power we wield, and we don’t want you mucking up the whole process.
Fortunately, you don’t have much time to realize your mistake. July 20 is the last day you can register to vote in the August 19 primary. Given your habit of waiting to the last minute, you’ll probably forget this deadline.
Despite our best efforts, some of you have realized the power you hold. At Celebration, we saw a well-organized Native voting registration campaign. Earlier this week, we published a story on a group of Juneau residents who are organizing a voter registration drive.
They don’t care who you vote for — just that you vote.
We’d prefer you didn’t vote. After all, we like being in the driver’s seat for the United States, and we’d like to keep it that way.
— Juneau Empire,