This will be the first Presidential Election since I moved to Alaska in ’74 in which I will not know the outcome of the election before I vote. I’m retired now and my polling place is only a couple hundred yards away so I’ll putter over there sometime late morning. In the past, it was always after work and 5 or 6 PM Alaska Time is nine or ten PM Eastern Time. I’ve even heard victory and concession speeches on the radio as I was driving to the polls.
That’s true for everyone in the Mountain, Pacific, Alaska, and Hawaii Time Zones. Now, I’m pretty much a super voter and the downticket races will get me to the polls, but I have to wonder how many less committed voters on hearing that the election has already been decided just go on home and open a beer.
This may well be a very, very tight election and the electoral votes of sparsely populated Western states may become very, very important. I know that if I really needed a few thousand votes to secure the EVs of one of those states, I’d really like to be a Democrat operative on one of those notoriously remote Indian Reservations. I can see how many votes I need coming out of the quick counting urban areas and I can count them until I get them right on the Reservation while mumbling a lot about how difficult it is to get the tallies in from the far-flung voters out in the wilderness.
Back when Alaska had five time zones and the communication with most villages was with one State provided radiophone, you could get on the phone and negotiate for all the votes of the village in exchange for some appointment or project. Don’t say it still doesn’t happen here and there even today. The true reservations are under Tribal and federal control, so state officials have little say over what happens there. If the reservation votes with the winner, nobody is going to look at how it was done. If the wrong guy wins, then you get outraged screams of sovereignty and accusations of racism, so you know no Republican is going to look into it.
In any event, the Country needs to do something about the vote suppression and the fraud potential caused by the differences in poll closing times across the Country. Maybe no release of totals until the Alaska and Hawaii polls close. I know that would be inconvenient to Easterners. Or maybe we change the whole scheme so that we vote through a longer period, say 24 hours and the polls close at the same time Nationwide. With all the early voting schemes around, that isn’t such a departure anyway. Until some different scheme is adopted, most people west of the Rockies will already know the outcome before they even go cast a vote. It ain’t right!