Prior to becoming a State, on January 3, 1959, Alaskans had no vote in national elections. Taxation without representation was a major issue in the campaign to achieve Statehood.
On November 8, 1960 a record 750 voters turned out in Chugiak in the first presidential election in the State of Alaska. The polling place was an empty store space in the Eagle River Shopping Center. The Chugiak voting precinct included the entire area- Eklutna through South Fork.
The first ballot was cast by Mr. Elva Osbourne, of the Birchwood Building Material Yard, who had arrived at 7:30 A.M. to construct the voting booths out of lumber which he had donated. Also donating to the polling place were the Market Basket who supplied the ballot boxes, Lorraines Dept Store who provided the curtains for the booths, and Eagle River Hardware who supplied shelf brackets.
Election judges were Mrs. Guy Johnson, Mr. Dan Bell, and Mrs. Chet Dee. Election clerks were Mrs. Jack Stewart and Mrs. Paul Jones.
The largest vote ever to be cast in the Chugiak Precinct kept the election officials busy counting votes until 9:30 Wednesday morning. Ballots were counted by hand.
Interesting sidelights on this election were the fact that two voters failed to vote for either of the two presidential candidates and one person voted for both of them. Also of interest was one write in for Nick Begich and nine write in votes for O. O. Anderson.
For President, the Chugiak Precinct cast 409 votes for Kennedy-Johnson and 337 votes for Nixon-Lodge. You can find the complete results of the Precinct vote on the CERHS website. Search the Knik Arm Courier, November 9, 1960. See also the Knik Arm Courier of November 2, 1960 for Precinct information.
Although the Chugiak voters picked Kennedy, Alaska voters picked Nixon by a total of 30,953 to 29,809.
Editor’s Note: Phyllis Smith is the president of the Chugiak-Eagle River Historical Society. At the time of Chugiak’s first election, she was Mrs. Jack Stewart – one of the first election judges.