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Home » Campaign Launched to Remove Ranked Choice Voting in Alaska

Campaign Launched to Remove Ranked Choice Voting in Alaska

24 January 2023, Tuesday
Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom has approved a petition for a measure that seeks to end the ranked choice voting system and non-partisan primary in Alaska. The petition sponsor, Art Mathias, believes the traditional election is the better option as it allows candidates from each officially recognized party to be placed on the general election ballot in each race. Mathias voiced his opinion that the new voting system limits what the candidates can say to avoid offending their opponents' supporters.

In the eyes of Ryan Mathias, Alaska's new election system has effectively stifled free expression while simultaneously making the state's politics harsher.

He claims that, due to the new system, there has been an extended span during which politicking has focused on personal attacks rather than honest exchange of ideas.

Mathias blames the system for creating a culture in which candidates are unwilling to voice their disagreement with others' views, or else risk being ranked low by the opposing party.

"It shuts down all free expression," he said. "If you do anything, any disagreement with the other people and their views, they’re not gonna like you and their people aren’t going to rank you second or third."

In 2020, Alaska made the switch to a new voting system, which was used for the first time in 2022. Proponents of ranked choice voting and the non-partisan primary contend that the system leads to the selection of consensus candidates, thus reducing the impact of both left-wing and right-wing extremism. Supporters also remark that the system promotes civil discourse and encourages candidates to campaign beyond their core groups of supporters.

Presently, Mathias's organization, Alaskans for Honest Elections, is preparing to collect the necessary signatures - close to 27,000 - in order to place the measure on the ballot in 2024. To kick off the petitioning effort, a special event has been scheduled for February 16th.

On Monday, Kelly Tshibaka, a conservative Republican, announced the launch of her new organization, Preserve Democracy, which aims to fight against ranked choice voting both in Alaska and nationwide. Tshibaka had previously attempted to oust moderate Republican U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski in the November elections, however, Murkowski still came out on top in the first-choice votes, before any re-rankings were tallied. Regardless, Tshibaka is still popular among Alaska's Republican base.

Tshibaka may have had a more potential for victory if there would have been a chance for her to eliminate Murkowski in the standard Republican primary. However, with the top-four primary in Alaska, they overcame this and both advanced.

Come November, with the help of moderate voters, Democrats, and nonpartisans, Murkowski went ahead with a margin of 2,000 first-choice votes, and then widened the gap to 19,000 when the rankings were taken into account.
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