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Government

Local GOP Volunteer Sets Up Polling Station In Time For Super Tuesday

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Unalaskan voters who are already registered Republicans - or want to be - will now have a chance to participate in the Alaska Presidential Preference Poll this coming Tuesday.

Until this week, it looked like local Republicans wouldn't be able to cast their votes in the poll since voting must be done in person - and the nearest polling place for District 37, which encompasses the Aleutian Islands and a large portion of the southwest mainland, was in Naknek.

But on Friday, GOP volunteer Jacob Whitaker got the official go-ahead to set up a second polling place in District 37. The balloting location - at Burma Road Chapel - will be open for five hours on Tuesday afternoon.

The Alaska Republican Party doesn't hold a statewide primary; rather GOP voters go to a polling place and fill out a ballot marking their candidate preference.

Whitaker says he's been working on establishing a balloting location in Unalaska for the past few weeks. He was prompted to establish a polling place here simply so he could vote too.

"I wanted to be able to vote for Ted Cruz, personally," Whitaker said Friday, adding that he's been trying unsuccessfully over the past few weeks to reach Alaska GOP officials to volunteer. But this week he got the right people on the phone and set the wheels in motion. "They had already printed ballots and they wanted to see if they could garner a few extra, a couple hundred to send out to me," Whitaker said. He expects the ballots to arrive at the Dutch Harbor airport by Saturday.

"I'm really personally concerned about Donald Trump being the nominee for the Republican vote, so I want to be able to at least cast my vote. So that turned in to being able to open a polling station for others to cast theirs," Whitaker said.

Whitaker said he doesn't know how many voters to expect on Tuesday.

"We don't know, because [Alaska GOP organizers] don't have any historical numbers to really draw from," he said.

According to statewide GOP party officials, the results of Alaska's preference poll are key to the overall candidate selection process.

"A reasonable person might ask: Why does Alaska, with so few residents, have so many delegates to the national convention? Alaska’s 28 delegates are more than New Hampshire’s 25, are equal to Oregon’s allotment, and are just shy of Iowa’s 30 delegates.  It’s because of the strength of our Republican base here in Alaska. With three GOP representatives in Congress, and with majorities in the state House and Senate, Alaska is considered a powerhouse Republican state," Peter Goldberg, chairman of the Alaska Republican Party, writes on the party's website. "Candidates who receive at least 13 percent of the PPP vote will be awarded Alaska delegate votes through a mathematically proportional system detailed in our party rules."

Unalaska's GOP Presidential Preference Poll will take place from three to eight p.m. on March 1 at Burma Road Chapel.

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