Do voters know what’s on Tuesday’s ballot?

If you don’t have Tuesday, Aug. 19, marked on your calendar as a big day, you’ve been spending too much time fishing; you’ve been out of state for too long; or you never read a newspaper, listen to the radio or TV, or browse the Internet. Two big things are happening next Tuesday:

1.It’s the unofficial end of summer with the start of most schools in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. (Some schools got under way last week.)

2.It’s the primary election, where voters will make lots of important decisions choosing the candidates they want on the ballot in the general election and deciding the fate of Senate Bill 21, which is all about oil and gas production taxes, with Ballot Measure 1. A “yes” vote repeals SB 21; a “no” vote keeps it in place.

Despite all the discussion and debate about Ballot Measure 1 and candidate appearances, a recent caller to the Homer News suggested voters still may not know what to expect when they go to the polls on Tuesday and asked that we print sample ballots. Voters may not remember that they will have to ask for a specific ballot. Because Alaska has a closed primary, voters’ party affiliation as listed on the precinct register will determine the ballot they are eligible to vote. There are three ballots:

The Alaska Democratic Party, Alaska Libertarian Party, Alaska Independence Party Candidates and Measures Ballot. Any registered voter can vote this ballot. Republican candidates are not included on the ballot; all other candidates are listed here. See sample below.

The Alaska Republican Party Candidates and Measures Ballot. Only voters registered as Republicans, undeclared or nonpartisan may vote this ballot. Only Republican candidates appear on this ballot. See sample below.

The Measures Only Ballot. Any registered voter may choose this ballot. It does not include any candidates, only Ballot Measure 1. See

We know these are small, but we did think it would be helpful, if voters saw them. The Homer area is in Senate District P and House District 31. Because of redistricting, Seldovia is now included in House District 32. Voters can study a sample ballot by going to the Alaska Division of Elections website:

Thoughts on Ballot Measure 1: Yes or no? This may be one of the most difficult choices Alaskans have made in years. If you’ve typically voted on ballot measures based on how your chosen political party leans, that strategy likely won’t work on this measure. While many Republican leaders are urging a “no” vote, others are in the “yes” camp. Democrats also are divided. There are respected economists who have made a case for both the repeal and to stay the course of SB 21. If you listen to all the hype, the future of Alaska is dependent on this vote. Those who favor the repeal say the future will be better if Alaskans vote “yes.” Those who want to keep SB 21 in place say it will be better if Alaskans vote “no.” The problem with oil taxes, no matter what system is in place, is that no one can perfectly predict the future. Depending on the scenario, there are favorable outcomes for Alaska under the old tax structure (Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share) and the new (SB 21). There also are not-so favorable outcomes, depending on the scenario, under both tax systems.

What’s an Alaskan to do? Study the Ballot Measure pamphlet, read the different opinions, talk to those on both sides of the issue because both sides have strong and valid points. And then vote.  Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.