My mother-in-law, Jennie Sather, 4’3” of pure Aleut pride, was born in the village of Egegik and orphaned as a result of the flu epidemic that killed so many in 1918-19. She grew up at the Woody Island Baptist Mission across from Kodiak. She worked hard her whole life — in Kodiak, Juneau, Seward and Anchorage — at the end of her working years at the Snow White Laundry.

Jennie Sather with her young son, Mel.

Besides raising her son Mel right, as a single mother at a difficult time, the thing she might have cared most about was casting her ballot in every election. Even in her final years as a resident of the Pioneer Home, my husband, Mel, would take her to her polling place and help her do her civic duty. Jennie raised a super voter. Mel never missed voting in an election either.

Our kids and grandkids learn from us what are the important obligations we have as citizens.

There’s a lot on the ballot this year. One president, one vice president, thirty-five U.S. Senate seats, 435 U.S. House seats, 11 governor seats, 10 attorneys general, seven secretaries of state, and 280 state supreme and appellate court judges. In Alaska, 51 of 60 state legislative seats are on the ballot along with 22 judges. The outcome of this election and your vote has the potential to significantly affect the future of climate change, racial justice, health care, marriage equality and other critical issues.

Revered civil rights leader, the late John Lewis, said “The vote is precious. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democratic society, and we must use it.” As a private foundation, we are not endorsing any particular candidate or proposition but we are encouraging you to make a plan today to ensure that your voice is heard and that your community is represented in this democratic process.

This year’s “I Voted” stickers were designed for the Alaska Division of Elections by artist Barbara Lavallee. This is the Aleut version.

As of Thursday, a record 127,648 Alaskans already have cast their ballots, either voting early or by absentee. More than 50,000 additional absentee ballots were requested and not yet received. Let’s keep this momentum going by making sure you’re ready to vote, casting your ballot and reminding others to make their voices heard.

We’re also seeing higher rates of COVID -19 than ever before, making it more important to make your plan to vote and to vote early.

Election Day is four days away, on Nov. 3. If you have not voted yet, we want to make sure you have what you need to cast a ballot.

If you are not registered to vote …

Alaskans who haven’t yet registered to vote can do so in person and vote for president and vice president by voting a questioned ballot at the polls on Election Day or by casting what’s known as an in-person absentee ballot.

If you’re voting by mail …

This close to Election Day, we encourage you to drop off your ballot at designated ballot drop-off location or an appropriate voting site. You can look up a ballot drop location by visiting https://www.elections.alaska.gov/Core/votingbymail.php. There are ten statewide dropbox locations, eight of which are in Southcentral.

If you’re voting in person …

Make a plan! Look up your ballot information, identify your polling site or vote center, and confirm your employer’s policy regarding time off for voting. You can look up your polling site and ballot information at https://myvoterinformation.alaska.gov/

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If you have questions or face difficulties voting, call the election protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683). Election experts can help you deal with any problems you may face at the polls.

If you are not eligible to vote in the general election, you can make a difference by sharing with friends. Thank you for participating in democracy!

Now, mask up and go vote!