Five things to know about Tuesday’s election:
TAKING THE SENATE: Republicans need to pick up just one seat to have a majority in the Alaska Senate, but that wouldn’t guarantee that they will rule the chamber. The state GOP chairman is aiming to secure 13 to 15 seats, which, even on the lower end of that, could make it hard, if not impossible, for the current coalition of Republicans and Democrats to hold on. The current split between Republicans and Democrats is 10-10, but six GOP members have joined with the Democrats to form a majority coalition.
WILL PEOPLE VOTE?: Voter turnout for the August Alaska primary was the lowest in a decade at 25 percent. Voter turnout is generally higher in presidential election. In Alaska, since 1976, it has been at least 59 percent, a mark hit in 1996. The high-water mark over that period came in 1992, when there was 83 percent voter turnout in the general election. The top of the ticket that year was President George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. A full two-thirds of voters turned out in Alaska general elections in 2004 and 2008.
SHALL WE MEET?: Every 10 years, Alaskans are asked whether there should be a constitutional convention, and every 10 years, since 1972, they have said no. A convention would allow for changes to be made to the state constitution, subject to voter approval. The question appears on this year’s ballot as Ballot Measure 1.
DISTRICT SHUFFLE: Redistricting forced a number of incumbents to square off this year, but it’s possible that legislative boundaries could be worked yet again before the 2014 elections. Legislative boundaries are redrawn after each decennial U.S. Census, and, as sometimes happens, this year’s map drew challenges. Earlier this year, a divided Alaska Supreme Court approved a map to be used for this year’s elections but left open a possibility that districts in southeast Alaska could be reworked for future elections.
YOUNGS and LONGEVITY: If re-elected to a 21st term in the U.S. House, Rep. Don Young will be poised to become Alaska’s longest-serving member of Congress, edging the late Ted Stevens, who served 40 years in the U.S. Senate. Young, who is currently the second longest-serving Republican in the U.S. House behind Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla., first won election in 1973. He has already indicated he’d like to run again in 2014.