Alaskans to vote on ranked-choice voting system in November

Published: Jun. 18, 2020 at 6:23 PM AKDT
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Alaska could soon join a handful of other states that are experimenting with what's known as a “ranked-choice voting system.”

Alaskans will decide in November whether to pass Ballot Measure 2, which changes how the state holds its election and gives voters more freedom to select third party candidates.

The initiative, backed by Alaskans for Better Elections, has three main goals:

1. Requiring both donors and campaigns to identify the source of donations over $2,000.

2. Open Primaries: voters, regardless of party affiliation, to use a single ballot listing every candidate running for office in each race.

3. Ranked-Choice Voting: voters would rank their candidates in order of preference. If a candidate wins a majority of first choices, they win. If not, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated; his or her voters’ ballots are counted for their second choice. This process continues until a candidate wins a majority of votes.

Supporters of the initiative say this will appeal to voters who are not registered with either major party.

"You have to pick either ballot, from either of the two parties that you chose not to register with and so that's how it gives more voice and choice to the Alaska voter, is now you can truly vote for who you want to in the primary,” Shea Siegert, campaign manager for Alaskans for Better Elections said.

The State of Maine is using ranked-choice voting for all of Maine's state-level primary elections, and in general elections for federal offices.

The Alaska Republican Party released the following statement regarding the initiative:

The "Better Elections" ballot initiative would destroy the existing election system in Alaska. It has three components designed to disenfranchise constituents. The portion of the initiative commonly known as the "jungle primary," is created to confuse and even mislead voters by masking the party affiliation of the candidates. The segment calling for ranked-choice voting forces constituents to vote for candidates in addition to the candidate of their choice. Any of these individuals can emerge as a winner, while other candidates are jettisoned by an arbitrary process of elimination. All of this further disenfranchises voters by watering down the power of individual votes. Finally, anyone who thinks that eliminating "dark money," or anonymity in political speech is a founding American principle, should know that the Federalist Papers and Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" were published anonymously at the time of the country's revolution against the British. The question can be asked: what would the Patriots have done without these inspiring writings spurring them on to freedom?

Siegert says the initiative is funded by large political organizations including Unite America and Fair Vote, a nonpartisan group that advocates for election reform.

The initiative is set to appear on the ballot in November.