Local voter turnout ‘shockingly low,’ despite city mayoral race
Preliminary results suggest lowest turnout since 2014
Unofficial results posted late Tuesday night show just under 17-point-5 percent of borough voters cast ballots in the municipal election. That’s the lowest in eight years, and borough Clerk April Trickey says it’s well under last year’s nearly 21 percent turnout.
“Which was pretty low for a mayor’s race, last year,” she said, referring to the race for borough mayor, in which Bryce Ward won a second term. This year’s elections also featured a mayoral race, for the City of Fairbanks. But City Clerk Danyielle Snider said even that wasn’t enough to draw many voters.
“We’re looking at about probably 14-ish percent so far, which I would say is shockingly low for a mayoral election year with two props on the ballot,” she said. She added that number will go up after about 330 uncounted city ballots are tallied.
Trickey says she was also surprised that the two ballot measures didn’t attract more voters.
“Typically with (a) tax-revenue cap proposition, it brings the voters out,” she said.
Trickey estimated late Tuesday night that there were about a thousand uncounted borough ballots, fewer than last year at this time. And she said there were 1,052 absentee ballots, some 300 fewer than last year.
“I’m not surprised -- last year we were in the middle of covid,” she said.
Trickey says voters may have stayed away from casting ballots in-person over the past two years due to Coronavirus concerns.
“It could mean that people went to the polls today, instead,” she said, referring to the decrease in absentee voting in the election.
Snider says redistricting also likely made it hard for some voters whose polling places had moved. She says that and the reconfigured precincts makes it hard to compare this year’s turnout with the last two years.
“City of Fairbanks used to have 12 precincts,” she said, “and now we have seven.”
According to summary election results posted late Tuesday evening, 3,156 votes were cast for Fairbanks mayor and City Council candidates, out of the city’s 22,458 registered voters -- a turnout of just over 14 percent. Snider said in a text Wednesday morning that a total of 513 ballots were still outstanding, including 283 absentees, 75 special-needs and a 153 questioned ballots.
She said the final city ballot count will be conducted next Tuesday, the 11th. And the City Council will certify the election during its October 24th regular meeting.
Trickey says the borough Assembly will certify the borough’s ballots on Oct. 27.
Editor's note: click here to download a PDF showing the preliminary/unofficial outcomes of the Oct. 4 municipal election for the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly, FNSB School District governing board, Interior Gas Utility board, Fairbanks mayor and City Council and North Pole City Council.