AP PHOTOS: Seeking votes above the Arctic Circle

AP News
|
Posted: Oct 27, 2014 2:30 AM
AP PHOTOS: Seeking votes above the Arctic Circle

BARROW, Alaska (AP) — It takes 22 hours and four airport connections to get from Washington to the country's northernmost city, where the sun will set two weeks after Election Day and not rise for two months.

Barrow is a place where a gallon of gas will set you back $7 a gallon, off-brand milk nearly $11, and polar bears sometimes prowl the edge of town. The roads are dirt, because pavement won't make it through the cold of winter, and the shortcut to downtown is a path across a frozen lagoon.

But in this year's midterm elections, the hardships of Barrow — both reaching the Inupiaq community of 4,700, and living in a place where subsistence hunts for whales, bearded seals and caribou help fill freezers — don't matter.

The race for U.S. Senate in Alaska is among the closest in the country, which means every vote counts, and that means there's even a get-out-the-vote effort in the state's farthest reaches.

"It's exciting that people in this small community could shape America," said Gabe Tegoseak. "But it's true."

Tegoseak is working the ground game for Democratic Sen. Mark Begich. The 29-year-old walks the ice-slicked streets, knocking on doors, looking for votes. Tegoseak grew up here, knows many of the residents and the town's rhythms.

He's had some success signing up supporters for Begich, but comes across people who support former state Attorney General Dan Sullivan, the Republican candidate, too.

"But that's the beauty of all of this," Tegoseak said. "That people can engage, really ... for things they feel passionate about."