Anchorage judge upholds ranked-choice voting system

The Alaska Division of Elections held a mock ranked-choice vote election and announced King...
The Alaska Division of Elections held a mock ranked-choice vote election and announced King Crab as the winner.(Alex Bengel/KTVF)
Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 5:32 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - An Anchorage Superior Court judge in an opinion released Thursday upheld the ballot measure adopted by Alaskans last year that brings ranked-choice voting to the state.

Judge Gregory Miller, who earlier this month heard arguments in the lawsuit brought by the Alaska Independence Party and several others, denied the plaintiffs’ motion for declaratory judgement and their motion for an injunction to stop the new law from being implemented in the 2022 general election, according to the opinion.

With ranked-choice voting, all candidates running for a given office or seat run in a primary together, and the top four candidates with the most votes move on to the general election. In the general election, voters then rank those candidates according to preference.

The plaintiffs sought to “have the new law deemed ‘unconstitutional on its face,’ and to return to a political party method,” the opinion states. They did not, however, challenge the part of the new law that attempts to preclude “dark money” from elections.

“This decision resolves all legal questions regarding Ballot Measure 2′s legality in our favor,” said Attorney Scott Kendall, counsel for Alaskans for Better Elections, in an emailed statement. “While the Plaintiffs may yet appeal to the Alaska Supreme Court, today is a big victory for Alaska’s voters and a big step towards holding our first election under the new system Alaskans have chosen. I’d like to thank Judge Miller for his prompt decision in an important case, and most of all I’d like to salute the Department of Law attorneys who did such a great job in collaboration with us in defense of Ballot Measure 2.”

Scott Kohlhaas, one of the plaintiffs and a Libertarian politician, said the plaintiffs will appeal the case to the Alaska Superior Court.

“I’ll always believe that the Libertarian Party has the right to be heard in November,” he said.

Kohlhaas said the ranked-choice voting system seeks to “liquidate” the Libertarian Party and all other political parties. He said he thought both Ken Jacobus, one of the plaintiffs and an attorney, did a good job arguing their case. So did Kendall, Kohlhaas said.

“I’m sure we’ll go to the Alaska Supreme Court,” he reiterated.

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