AFN president addresses concern over ranked choice voting, voter education

Alaska Native leaders recently got the opportunity to speak with Vice President Kamala Harris
Vice President Kamala Harris met with Alaska Federation of Natives President Julie Kitka and...
Vice President Kamala Harris met with Alaska Federation of Natives President Julie Kitka and many others at the White House. Kitka raised concerns about voting in Alaska.(Alaska's News Source)
Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 9:23 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Native community leaders from Alaska and across the nation met with Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday to discuss various concerns like COVID-19 for their respective communities. Following the recent White House meeting, voter education seems to be the looming issue both parties agreed on.

Alaska Federation of Natives President Julie Kitka brought up to Harris concerns over a new way of voting that’s coming to Alaska in 2022: ranked choice voting.

“Rank choice voting is an opportunity for voters to be able to rank candidates in order of their preference for races in the general election and that’s a change versus just voting for one candidate,” said Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai.

The pros to having a system like that is it determines the candidate with the strongest support, reduces wasted votes and eliminates the need for multiple elections, according to businesses providing that service.

But one of the cons, people say, is that it’s too complicated, which has Kitka concerned for Native voters across the state.

“We have a new system that we’re going to be dealing with is rank choice and that’s going to be a challenge to educate people about rank choice because we have as much misinformation about that as information,” Kitka said.

The division of elections has already started doing mock elections and is seeing positive results from the experiments, Fenumiai said, who noted they are now offering voter education.

“This educational campaign is going to be extremely important moving forward,” said Elections Language Assistance Compliance Manager Samantha Mack. “We’re really trying to prioritize making sure voters across Alaska, not just in our urban areas, are fully aware of the changes that they can expect to see on the ballots.”

This includes communicating with regional corporations and tribal organizations about the resources people have available to them.

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