HERRING WELCOME COMMITTEE – A trio of California sea lions lounge near Bieili Rocks Sunday. Sea lions and whales were feasting on herring in Sitka Sound. The first herring spawn of the season in Sitka Sound was spotted Wednesday, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said today. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Alaska Democrats Plan New Primary System

    JUNEAU (AP) — The Alaska Democratic Party is preparing to debut a new voting system for its upcoming presidential primary, officials said.
    The April 4 primary will use a ranked-choice, vote-by-mail system, The Anchorage Daily News reported Monday.
    The new system will not have the problems that plagued Iowa’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses, Alaska Democratic Party Executive Director Lindsay Kavanaugh said.
    A significant change is the decision to drop the caucus system, which the state party used in 2016.
    “They’re a fairly antiquated method of determining presidential preference,” she said.
    Presidential primaries are run by the party, rather than the state, and operate under different rules from the Aug. 18 state primary or the Nov. 3 general election.
    Alaskans complained in 2016 about overcrowding, long waits and the inaccessibility of the existing system for picking presidential candidates.
    State Democrats have moved to a mailed ballot after proposing and discarding a plan for smartphone voting.
    Registered Democrats will be mailed ballots starting March 6 and have until March 24 to mail them to a central counting location in Anchorage.
    The mailed ballot should be accessible to many more of the state’s 75,000 registered Democrats, Kavanaugh said.
    The party is planning for 20,000 or more participants compared to the 10,610 Democrats who participated in 2016 caucus meetings.
    The ranked-choice ballot will ask state Democrats to list candidate choices in order of preference. When a candidate receives less than 15% of the overall result, the votes of those who made that candidate their top pick will be transferred to their second choice.
    Iowa Democrats attempted to modernize their caucuses with an ill-fated smartphone application.
    The Alaska party will use 45 in-person voting locations before the ballots are transported in sealed bins to Anchorage, rather than scanning the ballots and sending the results electronically.
    “All of the ballots will be coming back to Anchorage in some form,” said Wigi Tozzi, the Democratic Party state primary director.
    Tozzi and Kavanaugh declined to name the firm hired to assist with the election, citing security concerns.   



Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 3-29-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 3 p.m. Sunday. 

The list includes the total cases (and what portions are travel and non-travel-related or still being investigated):

 Total - 114 (38, 76)

 Anchorage area – 59 (24, 35)

 Homer – 2 (1, 1)

 Seward – 1 (1, 0)

 Soldotna – 2 (1, 1)

 Sterling – 2 (0, 2)

 Fairbanks area – 28 (6, 22)

 Palmer – 2 (2, 0)

 Juneau – 5 (1, 4)

 Ketchikan – 13 (2, 11)

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is seven, and the cumulative number of deaths is three.



Welcome to the Sitka Sentinel's web page. In order to make the Sentinel's news more easily available during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken down the paywall to access articles on this page. Just click on an article headline to read the story. 

March 23, 2020



For the duration of the COVID-19 disaster emergency declared by federal, state and local authorities, the Sentinel is taking additional measures to reduce virus exposure to its employees and contractors as well as to the public, while continuing to publish a daily news report for Sitka.

To the extent possible, Sentinel news and sales staff will be working from home. For the protection of our carriers, home delivery of the newspaper will be stopped effective Tuesday, March 24.

The Sentinel will continue to publish on its website sitkasentinel.com. Access to the website will be free to all users. The Sentinel will also produce a print edition Monday through Friday. It will be available to all readers without charge, at locations throughout town.

Initially, these locations are those where the Sentinel's newspaper vending machines are already in place. The coin mechanisms will be disabled or the doors removed to permit easy access. The Sentinel will work with the stores where the paper is usually sold, to designate a place inside or outside the store where the free edition can be made available.  

Home delivery subscriptions are on hold, and after the end of the disaster emergency, subscriptions will be extended at no charge for the number of days that there was no home delivery.

The Sentinel will make its print edition available to the public as early in the day as possible. with all personnel taking precautions to prevent spread of the virus.

The Sentinel is calling upon its customers to observe the COVID-19 emergency precautions already in place, particularly in maintaining a six-foot social distance from others at newspaper distribution sites.

Following is the statement issued by the Sentinel on March 16, stating the Sentinel's emergency procedures, which remain in effect.

The Sentinel office at 112 Barracks Street is closed to the public. We encourage people to use the phone, email or the U.S. Postal Service as much as possible.There is a slot in the front door of the office for ads, news items and payment checks. Emails may be sent to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the phone number is (907) 747-3219.                                                                          

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