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Voting for FNSB education tax proposition begins

FNSB Early Voting station at the Shoppers Forum Mall off Lathrop Street in Fairbanks.
FNSB Early Voting station at the Shoppers Forum Mall off Lathrop Street in Fairbanks.

School districts across Alaska are asking the state legislature for an increase in funding, but it is looking less likely as the last day is tentatively May 16th.

In the meantime, incorporated municipalities, like the Fairbanks North Star Borough, are bearing a larger share of funding their schools. This year the FNSB school district is asking the borough for $64.2 million. But the proposed borough budget is only $54 million.

The borough assembly put a proposition to raise $10 million in taxes to close that gap, on a special election ballot May 7th.

And over the weekend, early voting for the issue, called Proposition A, has started. The borough opened a polling station at the Shoppers Forum Mall in Fairbanks last Saturday. A big turnout over the weekend did not surprise election workers. Deputy Borough Clerk Adena Benn said the turnout has been great.

The first day we had 451 voters, and then on Sunday we had 173 voters,” Benn said.

For those who live in Fairbanks or can drive here, the voting station in the shopping mall makes for an easy errand.

“It is incredibly convenient, yes.

In a quick survey of voters leaving the station, the convenience of early voting came through. Tilden Morgan dropped in between business appointments.

“It’s convenient, the lines aren't long, and I'm just anxious to get my vote in. Because I think this is a really important vote right here, so I want to be sure that I don't have any excuses and I want to encourage people to do the same thing. Get out and vote,” Morgan said.

Kate Pendelton come to vote while having her summer tires put on.

“Because I won't be here on election day. I'm headed off on a trip and I wanted to make sure and I voted before I left," Pendelton said.
"So this is wildly convenient and I really appreciate the opportunity to do this, and it means hopefully we'll get more people out to vote. So, I think that's a great thing,” she said.

David Weissman also wanted to vote before traveling.

“I think it's very easy, very convenient. We're going on vacation tonight and we'll miss the election day, so it's the best way to vote. (With) an average of only 20 percent of voters voting on local elections, I think early voting and vote by mail will help encourage people to get out and participate in democracy,” Weissman said.

Benn said there has been no problems with rudeness or harassment of election workers.

We've had a great experience here so far this year. Just questions, which we welcome. We're happy to take time to explain things, Benn said.

Michelle Goodwin has been a poll worker for both municipal and state elections since 2015.

“I’ve been an election worker for many years, and I feel very safe here in Fairbanks. We have a great community, and I'm happy to work at the elections, Goodwin said.

For those waiting for the ritual of Election Day voting on May 7th, Benn suggests looking up your polling place ahead of time. Since this is a special election, not all routine polling locations were available.

“We've had a few temporary polling place changes this year, so please go online and find out. Find our list of polling places, and you can do that at, Benn said.

Four precincts have moved: Eielson Farm Road and Moose Creek precincts, as well as Fairbanks One and Shanly.

Robyne began her career in public media news at KUAC, coiling cables in the TV studio and loading reel-to-reel tape machines for the radio station.