Tuesday is Election Day in Juneau. Polls opens at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.
Voters will decide who will serve on four seats on the Juneau Assembly and two seats on the Juneau School Board. They will also settle three separate, but related ballot propositions having to do with funding intended for improvements to Centennial Hall and a new Juneau Arts and Culture Center.
While the ballot is pretty straightforward, there are some unintuitive parts of the process baked into Juneau’s election codes.
In the Juneau Assembly races this year, there are four candidates seeking four seats, so it’s not competitive in the normal sense. But for the two people seeking the Assembly District 1 seats: one seat comes with a full, three-year term and the other is for only one year. That shorter, one-year term is what remains from Jesse Kiehl’s re-election in 2017. Kiehl resigned from the Assembly after being elected to the state Senate in 2018.
According to city election codes, the District 1 candidate who receives the most votes will get the full term and the other candidate will be up for re-election next year.
Sounds straightforward. The voters who live in District 1 have two choices, some will vote for Candidate A, and some will vote for Candidate B, right? Well, no, not exactly.
First, let’s look at what districts mean in Assembly elections. The city is divided into two geographic districts. This year’s sort-of-competitive District 1 covers downtown Juneau, Thane, Douglas, Lemon Creek, and the airport area. But even if you live in Auke Bay or off Mendenhall Loop Road in District 2, you’re expected to vote in the District 1 race.
That’s because in Assembly elections, living within a district is a requirement for the candidates, not the voters. Each eligible voter in Juneau is supposed to vote in the area-wide, District 1 and District 2 Assembly races.
Also, Juneau voters aren’t so much picking who will get the longer term in District 1, as much as not picking the person who will get the short term. Each voter can vote twice in the District 1 race, but they can’t give their preferred candidate both votes.
To avoid a tie, at least one District 1 voter must abstain from casting one of their votes, or write someone else in.
The school board races are more straightforward. Two seats and four candidates who are all at-large. The two candidates who get the most votes win.
For our election guide and election night coverage, go to KTOO.org/elections, or listen to KTOO at 104.3 FM at 9 p.m. Polling locations and other voter information is available on the city’s election website.