Unalaska voters showed up to the polls on Tuesday to cast their votes in the island's Municipal Election. On the ballot were two contested races and two unopposed races. And one of those unopposed races—for City Council seat E—was challenged by a popular write-in candidate.
This year's Election Day in Unalaska was akin to most fall Election Days on the island: there was light rain accompanied with intermittent Aleutian gusts, and skies were mostly grey.
But, like in most places, due to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, a few things made this Election Day standout, namely a strong, sort of fruity, and sterile scent of hand sanitizer that accompanied voters as they exited City Hall.
Most of the voters who shared their experience said they were comfortable with the precautionary measures, like social distancing, mask wearing, and, of course, sanitization, that came with this year's voting process.
"It's good—I mean, it's fine. It's no problem," said Bernadette Namasivayam. "You know, we have to do what we have to do. It is what it is."
Like many other Unalaskans that shared their experience, Namasivayam said she was thankful to have the opportunity to exercise her right to vote, even if it meant doing it from under a mask. And she encouraged others to exercise that right as well.
"Well, I hope more people will come out and vote tonight," said Namasivayam. "It's the only chance—do something. If you want changes, come out and vote, right?"
While on paper, the added social distancing and health regulations may have appeared time consuming, most voters said the process to vote in person on Election Day was painless and quick, and like Namasivayam, worth the chance to make change.
Felipe Laforteza said it took him just a minute or so to fill out his ballot. He said city officials kept everything very clean and he felt safe voting in person, which he normally chooses to do. While he chose not to share all of the candidates he voted for, he said he supports Fernando Barrera for school board.
Brett Richardson echoed Laforteza's appreciation of the efficiency and cleanliness of the in person voting process, as well as his support for Barrera. He said he voted for Dennis Robinson and Thomas Bell for the open council positions, and chose to write a candidate in for the other open school board seat. And he said, despite the pandemic, as long as it can be done safely, voting is an important practice.
"We need to exercise our rights to be heard, even when it seems like the world is falling down around us," said Richardson. "That's probably the most important time to do so."
More than 420 people showed up at City Hall to vote on Tuesday. And while there are still 84 absentee and questioned ballots to be canvassed Friday morning, three of Unalaska's races were decided Tuesday night, and one was too close to call. Tune in to KUCB or Channel 8 TV on Friday, or visit our website, as we bring you the final results for Unalaska's Municipal Election.