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Naliġaaniktuŋa!

Last Tuesday KNOM Volunteers experienced our first election, Nome-style– with no lines at the polls, Inupiaq “I Voted!” stickers, and beluga whales.

Josh, Margaret, Lucus, Dayneé and I all registered to vote in Alaska when we got our Alaskan drivers licenses. We were among the 19000 Alaskans who voted this year. Alaska has one Representative, and Republican Don Young has held the seat for forty years. Alaska re-elected by him 62%.

We voted at the polls at Old St. Joseph’s Church.

Old St. Joseph's

The KNOMers and Nomites voted at Old St. Joseph’s church, a former Catholic church and beautiful public space in town.

We walked in, voted, hand-fed our ballots to the ballot counter machine, and left within 2 minutes–with no lines, no hassle, and Inupiaq on our “I voted!” stickers.

Then, we headed to work. Alaska is four hours behind Eastern Standard Time, so when the polls closed in Virginia and Florida and other battleground states at 8 pm, it was 4 pm for us. Looking at election results online. We had all planned to watch the results live at an election party at another Nomite’s house. But plans changed when Nome got a surprise visitor that trumped the excitement of the election—a pod of beluga whales.

Beluga

This is what I thought of in my head when we saw belugas. Photo credit: http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/beluga-whales/images/3197204/title/beluga-whales-photo

At 5 pm we got a call from our friends Jenna and Tara- The beluga whales stopped in Nome’s harbor on their migration south. Even though it was night, our photos did not turn out. But they were beautiful! We saw about twenty white tubular bodies diving gracefully in and out of the black water. It was hard to distinguish them from the massive white chunks of ice floating in the harbor.

Then, by 7 o’clock, we had had our fill of whale sightings and practiced our whale dialect, and oohed and aahed enough, we headed to the election party. We missed the state by state results but arrived just after all the major networks declared Obama won Ohio and the presidency.

After a few minutes of conversations and catch-up with the other Nomites at the election party, I ducked out to set up Studio A for reporting municipal results live in the 8 o’clock hour.

KNOM reports municipal election results live the night of every election. This time, the entire news team was involved–Margaret and Laureli headed to the polls to get the results, and I stayed at the station, ready to interrupt the programming at any minute to say, “We now go live to Old St. Joe’s where Margaret DeMaioribus and Laureli Kineen have an update on the municipal election results.”

Well, that moment never happened. We weren’t able to get the results before the 9 o’clock hour. At 9 o’clock we play the rosary—and under no circumstances will that ever be changed or interrupted. So Laureli kindly let Margaret and I head home, and she stuck around to report the results live at the 10 o’clock hour.

I rushed back to the election results party—and made it back to watch Obama’s victory speech with new friends. All in all, an exciting and different election from one I’ll ever experience again. I’m proud to say—“Naliġaaniktuŋa!” in Nome.

Daynee voted

Daynee voted…

 

Lucus voted

Lucus voted…

 

Josh Voted

And Josh voted, too.