780 AM | 96.1 FM 

“YOURS FOR WESTERN ALASKA”

(907) 443-5221

Ballot Measure 2 Promises to Overhaul Alaskan Elections For Better or For Worse

Photo: David Dodman, KNOM.
Photo: David Dodman, KNOM.

Alaska Ballot Measure 2, one of two citizens’ initiatives on the ballot this November, could revolutionize the election process for Alaskan voters. Some feel that is a good thing while others feel it would do more harm than good. KNOM spoke with the Alaskans for Better Elections’ “Vote Yes on 2” campaign about this ballot initiative.

Campaign manager and spokesperson Shea Siegert gave a brief rundown about how Ballot Measure 2 will improve Alaska’s elections, if approved.

“What Ballot Measure 2 does is it gives more voice, choice, and power back to Alaska voters, and it does this in three ways.”

– Shea Siegert

The three components encompassed in Ballot Measure 2 are increased campaign financing disclosure requirements, a top-four primary election open to all Alaskan voters, and ranked choice voting in the general election.

If Ballot Measure 2 is approved, all three of these changes to Alaskan elections would be implemented, marking a radical shift from the current system. Only 22 municipalities and one state currently have ranked choice voting, and Alaska would be the first state to have an open primary coupled with ranked choice voting (RCV).

Siegert believes this shift is necessary and will benefit all Alaskans.

“When you implement ranked choice voting and open primaries together, you get an elected population that looks more like the population electing them, and so you have a more representative government.”

– Shea Siegert

Both the advocates and opponents of Ballot Measure 2 consider their campaigns to be “nonpartisan” and aimed at amplifying the voices of Alaskan voters.

Defend Alaska Elections, the “Vote No on 2” campaign, has received donations from mostly conservative organizations; however, the campaign has also garnered support from top Democrats in the state like former U.S. Senator for Alaska Mark Begich.

The Defend Alaska Elections campaign claims that Ballot Measure 2 amounts to “political trickery” that is being funded by out-of-state billionaires as a kind of political experiment. In addition, Defend Alaska Elections claims that the 25 page-long initiative is “confusing” and Alaskan voters will be disenfranchised as a result.

Siegert disagrees with that assertion.

“I get kind of offended when they say that because I look out at fellow Alaskans here in Anchorage and across the state… I’ve worked in Kotzebue, Haines, Kenai, Anchorage; and I look at Alaskans, and I don’t think counting to four is too confusing for anyone.”

– Shea Siegert

At the general election, voters would utilize RCV by ranking the top four candidates that advanced past the open primary. In order to win, a candidate would need a simple majority of the vote (50%+1).

If no candidate wins the majority, the candidate with the least number of votes would be eliminated, and the people who chose that candidate as their first choice would have their votes redistributed to their second choice. This process would continue until there are only two candidates remaining, and the candidate with the most votes would be the winner.

Despite the fact that ranked choice voting only exists in Maine, Joy Huntington, a member of the Alaska Natives for Better Elections coalition, says the proof of RCV’s ability to elect a more representative government is in the pudding.

“So a 2016 study from the University of Missouri at St. Louis, indicated that ranked choice voting increases voter turnout by about 10%, and also, we see the minority vote coming out a lot stronger on Election Day. Also, more people of color are actually running for office, and they are more likely to win with ranked choice voting.”

– Joy Huntington

The Defend Alaska Elections “Vote No on 2” campaign contends that, if passed, this initiative will create an environment where candidates are afraid to be controversial.

However, the Alaskans for Better Elections campaign sees this shift as indicative of greater cooperation and an incentive for politicians to work together.

“There’s been 22 cities across the nation that have implemented it and one state. What we find is that their voters aren’t confused, they’re more satisfied with the outcomes because more of the district supports the candidate that is getting elected. What you also find are campaigns start to be based on issues rather than partisan slogans or based on mudslinging.”

– Shea Siegert

Ballot Measure 2 has been endorsed by the League of Women Voters of Alaska, Action Now Initiative, Democracy for America, FairVote Action Fund, Represent.Us, Unite America, and American Promise.

All Alaskan voters will have the final say on whether or not Ballot Measure 2 passes during the general election on November 3rd.

Image at top: Nome’s polling place with voting booths filled by Alaskan voters. Photo from David Dodman, KNOM.

Share this story

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Email

Recent Posts

MS Westerdam Passengers Recall Icy Approach to Nome

Holland America’s MS Westerdam has arrived in Nome. The cruise ship that holds over 1,900 passengers is anchored just off the coast of Nome, too big to dock in the port. Small tenders that hold about 80 passengers each are ferrying visitors to and from the shore throughout the day.

Read More »

First-Ever KNOM Radio Music Fest Draws a Crowd, Drives Donations

Selma Casagranda serenaded audience members with a few of her original songs. Casagranda is from Seward and one of four finalists from KNOM’s 2023 American Idol search. Audience members joined the King Island dance group for an invitational dance. One of KNOM’s 2023 American Idol search finalists, Martin Paul of

Read More »

June 20: Rick Thoman’s Climate Highlight for Western Alaska

The following is a transcript from Rick Thoman’s weekly “Climate Highlight for Western Alaska” provided to KNOM Radio. Thoman is a Climate Specialist with the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The largest wildfire on the Seward Peninsula since 2019, the Goldbug Fire,

Read More »

More

Newsletter:

Work for Us:

Jobs

Contact

Nome:

(907) 443-5221 

Anchorage:

(907) 868-1200 

Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that KNOM Radio Mission is located on the customary lands of Indigenous peoples. 

Based in the Bering Strait region, KNOM broadcasts throughout the homelands of the Iñupiaq, Siberian Yup’ik, Cup’ik and Yup’ik peoples.