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GOTNV Makes Big Push Prior To November Election

Fairbanks, AK - Over the last few months, the non-partisan ‘Get Out the Native Vote’ has made a big push to mobilize native voters across the Alaska.  Roughly one in five potential voters in the state is Alaska Native.

For as long as she can remember, Sarah Obed has been heavily involved in the election process.

“In fact, I was in the Peace Corps in a remote island in the south pacific and I voted absentee so yes, I provide myself on my voting history," laughs Obed.

She now works as the Vice President of External Affairs for Doyon Limited.  In Interior Alaska, the Native Corporation partners with Tanana Chiefs Conference and the Fairbanks Native Association on a nonpartisan effort to encourage Alaska Natives and tribal members to vote.

“In Alaska particularly, there’s a huge population of Alaska Natives that we have a power at the polls to make a difference just in terms of the sheer numbers of Alaska Native people, provided we turn out to vote," says Obed.

In July, the Alaska Federation of Natives reported the addition of 128 absentee and early voting polling places in villages across the state. AFN, along with the Association of Alaska Regional Native Corporation Leaders and ‘Get out the Native Vote’ agreed to work with the State Division of Elections to establish the sites.

In the Interior region this summer ‘Get Out the Native Vote’ volunteers registered or updated information for more than 200 people.  That’s down about 100 voters from 2012, but Sarah Obed doesn’t seem to mind.

“Maybe it’s because we were very effective in 2012, that we had less people registering or updating their information this year," she says.

Statewide, ‘Get out the Native Vote’ has registered more than 1200 shareholders and tribal members this year, but that number could be conservative.  The organization is still awaiting a final count.