Absentee Voting a Success at CITC

Michelle Sparck reflects on CITC’s successful polling place debut

CITC staff volunteered at the organization’s absentee voting polling place. Photo courtesy of Anchorage Daily News

For the first time ever, Cook Inlet Tribal Council’s Nat’uh building served as an absentee polling place for Alaskan voters.

The endeavor was spearheaded by Michelle Sparck, the director of strategic initiatives with Get Out the Native Vote. Get Out the Native Vote became a CITC affiliate in 2020 and is a non-partisan effort to mobilize Alaska Native and American Indian voters.

Previously, CITC served as an early voting station in 2020–the same year Get Out the Native Vote became a CITC affiliate.

“We had about 500 people come in a period of five days, and we had a seamless operation,” said Sparck. “It was really fun. It was incredible. There was no menacing, there was no danger, there were no threats. The community was really responsive.”

Some people stumbled on the polling location after arriving at CITC for services. Others were led there by Google. No matter their path to Nat’uh, Sparck was thrilled by the variety of faces that came through the door.  

About 500 voters came through CITC’s absentee voting polling place over the course of five days. Photo courtesy of Anchorage Daily News

“We had people of all different ages and abilities. We had Elders come in. We had all Native groups come in. We had three generations of a family from Point Lay come in and vote. It was really sweet. It was nice to see the range of people and their experiences.”

But none of those votes could have been cast without a motivated team of volunteers working behind the tables. And that’s exactly what CITC employees provided.

“We had about a four-hour training session scheduled and the Region II Director came in and trained us,” said Sparck. “He’s used to having two to four people per polling location, so for him to come to our facility and have 15 people eager and ready to sign up for four-hour shifts was really encouraging to him, and unheard of.”

While she’s excited about a job well done, Sparck is already eyeing ways to build on the success.

“I think having 500 people turn out to vote, whether they planned to or not, is an incredible turnout and we’re really looking forward to looking for more polling opportunities in the future.”

Learn more about Get Out the Native Vote here.