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Ranked-choice voting in Alaska constitutional, supporters argue

Ballot Measure 2 faces a lawsuit which, if successful, will block ranked-choice voting and open...
Ballot Measure 2 faces a lawsuit which, if successful, will block ranked-choice voting and open primaries in the 2022 elections.(Alex Bengel/KTVF)
Published: Apr. 12, 2021 at 4:17 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - In November of 2020, Ballot Measure 2 was voted into law by a 1% margin.

The measure opens primary elections in state and national races, creating a single primary ballot for all voters. It also implements ranked-choice voting to the general election, in which the top 4 candidates from the primaries proceed to the final ballot.

Now, the measure faces a lawsuit which, if successful, will block ranked-choice voting and open primaries in the 2022 elections.

Among the allegations brought in the lawsuit is that the measure denies the constitutional right to free association by mandating open primaries, a position not held by Alaskans for Better Elections Executive Director Jason Grenn.

“Open primaries has been litigated throughout the country, actually, and the Supreme Court, actually, has ruled that open primaries, such that Alaska is advocating for through its new reforms, are legal,” Grenn said, adding, “And we’re not saying that parties can’t do a nominating system on their own. They can do so, just... they’d have to do it through a different system, and they’d have to do it at their own cost.”

Alaskans for Better Elections is an organization which advocates for the measure.

Grenn says under the new system, the number of candidates on the primary ballot would be unlimited. “We feel very strongly that third parties will actually see some of the benefits of being able to, again, be treated as equals to the other parties as well.’

He argued that third parties “won’t have to worry about being the spoiler in certain races.”

Grenn says Alaska sees record numbers of registered voters not affiliated with a party. “We’re not advocating for a certain party, or a certain, left or right, or even advocating for certain candidates, but we’re advocating for voters.”

He added, “We’re very confident through the end of this, no matter when that might be, that Ballot Measure 2 will prevail and be law of the land.”

While the measure is being litigated, Grenn says his organization will engage in an education campaign geared toward Alaskan voters, businesses and candidates.

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