We’re working to improve our elections coverage. Here’s how you can help.

a person stands in a voting stall
An Anchorage voter. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

It’s almost time for the 2022 midterm elections, and this year there’s a lot at stake. Alaskans get to vote for governor, a U.S. senator and a U.S. representative. Also, dozens of state legislative seats are up for election. Add to that a question about holding another state constitutional convention and a new ranked choice voting system. It’s a big deal.

Alaska Public Media is partnering with other media organizations around the state, like KTOO and Alaska Beacon, to make our elections coverage more responsive to your needs and interests. 

Here’s how we’re doing it and how you can help:

Listening.

The first step is getting out into the community and listening to people. We’re setting up booths at events around Southcentral Alaska this summer and walking around farmers markets and other community events. We want to know what questions you have for candidates, what information you need about elections and how best to reach you. 

We’ll also be hosting a series of in-person and online listening sessions so we can dig deeper into the issues that matter to you most. They’re also an opportunity for you to meet other community members and learn from them. The sessions are open to everyone, no matter what your opinions or backgrounds.

This is all in addition to online surveys, reading comments on elections-related stories and upcoming conversations over social media.

Your opinions and needs matter. We’re listening.

Creating tools and reporting on issues you care about.

The information we gather through in-person and online engagement is being transformed into tools and news stories that meet voter needs. For example, many community members highlighted a need for easier ways to compare candidates. They want candidates’ opinions and plans on various topics to be accessible side-by-side. They also want to see what candidates did and said about those issues in the past. We’re developing a tool to make that easier.

Another aspect of this project is helping people understand the constitutional convention question. The first tool we created is a simple handout answering basic questions about the topic. You can download it here. What are we missing on this? Let us know!

We’re also asking people, “What do you want candidates to be talking about as they compete for your votes?” It’s a question that news organizations around the country are asking voters because you should be the ones driving the narrative. So far we’ve heard topics like:

  • Campaign finance reform — Who are your donors? What will you do to limit campaign spending?
  • Housing — What will you do to decrease disparities in access to housing?
  • Climate — What are some of your suggestions for fighting climate change, and how will you accomplish them?

The voters we’ve spoken with so far want action plans, not just words. They want transparency on behalf of candidates and accountability.

All of our tools will be as accessible as possible. If we make a mistake in accessibility or content, we want to know. You can always email me directly at ahillman@alaskapublic.org

Being Transparent.

We want you to understand what we’re doing throughout this process. As we gather more information from community members around the state, we’ll anonymize it and share it with you. Every public meeting will be advertised widely so you all have an opportunity to join. 

We’ll be open about who we are partnering with to develop tools and news stories, and we’re open to your ideas of who else we should reach out to. Currently funding for this project comes from the Alaska Center for Excellence in Journalism and from Alaska Public Media.

How you can get involved. 

You can start by filling out our short survey here. Through the survey you can sign up for more information about the community listening sessions and where and when we might be out in public. You can also do the survey completely anonymously. Please share it far and wide. The more people we talk to, the better our coverage will be.

Starting in August, we’ll host community listening sessions both online and in person. For in-person events, we’ll work hard to make them accessible and to provide child care. 

You can also email me, the engagement editor for this project, directly at ahillman@alaskapublic.org.

I can’t wait to hear from you all!

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Anne Hillman is the engagement editor for a special elections-focused project at Alaska Public Media. She also runs Mental Health Mosaics, a project of Out North that uses art, podcasts, poetry, and creativity to explore mental health and foster deeper conversations around the topic. Reach her at ahillman@alaskapublic.org.