Ballot Measure 2 seeks to open primary, establish ranked-choice voting

Published: Oct. 30, 2020 at 4:16 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Ballot Measure 2 will appear on Alaskan ballots in the general election on November 3rd.

According to its title, the act will replace “the Political Party Primary with an Open Primary System and Ranked-Choice General Election, and [Require] Additional Campaign Finance Disclosures.”

Shea Siegert, Campaign Manager of the Yes on Two for Better Elections campaign explained that the measure “was drafted in Alaska by Alaskans for Alaskans. What it’s aimed at doing is giving us the most voice, the most choice, the most power in our votes.”

According to Siegert, under the measure, the two-primary system currently in place in the state would change to “an open primary where, no matter what kind of voter you are, you get the same candidates on your ballot as the voter standing next to you. All candidates are accessible by all voters.”

The four candidates with the most votes in the primary would then appear on the general election ballot. A voter then ranks the candidates based on preference. After a first count, if no candidate receives 50 percent of first choice votes, then the candidate with the least amount of first-choice votes is eliminated. That candidate’s votes are then distributed to the candidates who received second choice on those ballots. This process repeats until a candidate has received 50 percent of the ballots.

“If your first choice loses, then you get a say in who wins. But if your first choice doesn’t lose, then your vote continues to count through tabulation,” Siegert said.

He went on to say that the measure “puts Alaska on top in terms of rankings of the most, the strictest campaign finance laws in the United States. It makes sure that if money comes into the state of Alaska, we know the true source -- so no longer can big-time funders hide their name from the amounts of money that they’re giving to influence votes in Alaska.”

Mike Prax, Representative for Alaska House District 4 and co-chair of Defend Alaska Elections, said he thinks the measure is deceptive. “It’s funded by millions of dollars of outside dark money. When it comes right down to the wire, you can’t figure out who’s supporting it.”

Prax added, “It’s not going to accomplish what they say they want. They’re advertising that it will bring people back into the election. It won’t. It will make it more difficult for individuals to participate effectively in elections.”

He predicted that if passed, sections of the measure would be challenged in court. “They’re infringing on the right of candidates to be involved with and identified with and supported by political parties.”

Prax went on to say, “We’ll have a meaningless primary of just people that can say anything during a campaign, and nobody to hold them accountable to that; then in the general election, same thing.”

According to Prax, “It’s just a confusing situation that is going to result in more and more mass media, 30-second soundbites, and we’ve already seen how deceptive that can be, and the people are just going to be frustrated and excluded from the process.”

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