Voters turned out in large numbers yesterday, with over 2,800 ballots cast between Sitka’s two precincts. Anne Pollnow oversaw voting at Grace Harbor church, where she spent her lunch hour scouring the parking lot for candidate bumper stickers.
“It’s considered campaigning. I’ve had to go in ‘Who’s the owner of the black Chevy?’” explained Pollnow.
The line snaked out the door during the lunch hour rush. Sitka’s other precinct at St. Gregory’s church saw a similar turnout. Dorothy Orbison chairs Precinct No. 2 and says, while voting there wasn’t record breaking, it was still impressive.
“We had a really good turnout,” Orbison said. “Voting was steady and smooth all day long and kind of petered out in the evening.”
At the end of the evening, voters in Sitka cast 2,851 ballots, down from the 2012 general election, which saw a turnout of 3,211.
According to both Pollnow and Orbison, the day went off without any major issues. A poll watcher at St. Gregory’s did have to ask a group of voters to leave after casting their ballots and boasting loudly about it.
While it’s not allowed in or around the poll stations, the Lake Street roundabout was busy with campaigners. Ralph Junker held up signs in support of Donald Trump, Joe Miller, and Sheila Finkenbinder. He says the city of Sitka and the entire United States needs to be more fiscally conservative.
“$140 or $180 million for the [Blue Lake] dam– something’s really wrong. And $20 trillion in debt as an American nation. Something’s really wrong with America,” Junker said.
No matter who they were casting their ballot for, voters in Sitka were aware of the historic implications of the day. Yesterday was Bill Foster’s fifteenth time voting in a general election.
“Earlier this year I told my grandson, who’s in high school, ‘Pay attention to this. It’ll never happen like this again.’ I’ve been through a lot of elections and this is probably the strangest one,” Foster said, “stranger than fiction, actually.”