Empire editorial: Party choices may muddy vote on legislative move

Posted: Sunday, August 04, 2002

Since this will be the first election under Alaska's new primary system in which political parties will restrict who can vote for their candidates, many voters had to make hard choices in registering for the Aug. 27 primary. The deadline for registering was July 28.

Under the new election law, voters no longer can switch their party affiliation at the polls, which eliminates the possibility of crossing party lines when selecting candidates.

Those voters who do not wish to declare an affiliation to any one of Alaska's six recognized parties are naturally frustrated.

According to Virginia Breeze, spokeswoman for the state Division of Elections, voters have the option during the general election of choosing a party in order to get a ballot and then voting on the measure and leaving the other choices blank.

Prior to the registration deadline, half of the state's voters were registered as nonpartisan, undeclared or other.

We hope that voters didn't make the mistake of registering with the Alaska Independence Party, thinking that particular party was would be the best choice for "independents."

The Alaska Independence Party is the party of Mark Chryson, one of the sponsors of the legislative-move initiative. The legislative-move initiative is a thinly disguised effort to achieve a wholesale move of Alaska's capital to the Mat-Su Valley or Anchorage - or both places depending how things play out.

The initiative also repeals the FRANK Initiative, which is a law requiring the public be informed of the total cost of a move before it can happen.

The AIP had a booth at last year's Alaska State Fair for the purpose of collecting signatures for the initiative. Juneau volunteers will be visible at Alaska fairs in the coming month, working to encourage voters to vote no on ballot measure 2.

AIP claimed 800 party members in Juneau prior to the registration deadline. During the last capital move effort, 800 local residents voted to move the capital out of Juneau.

By now, sensible folks realize that a move of the Legislature ultimately will result in an estimated loss of one-third of Juneau's job base and along with it a big chunk of Southeast Alaska's waning economy. Under this ugly scenario, the cost of supporting the infrastructure of a community of 31,000 people will be paid by the 20,000 who remain.

The biggest challenge Juneau faces at this point in its fight to keep the capital is educating voters around the state that they risk losing an important right if the measure passes. Defeat of the FRANK Initiative will mean that a capital move could take place without disclosing the cost. The FRANK Committee is the organization spearheading the voter-education campaign.

Established in 1977, the FRANK Committee (which is an acronym for Fiscally Responsible Alaskans Needing Knowledge) has fought to stave off all other capital-move campaigns. The AIP is actively working to get this measure passed. A number of state legislators are also ramping up their efforts to get the Legislature moved and, in fact, are making the issue a key part of their re-election campaigns.

Many Juneau businesses and private individuals have generously contributed to the campaign to defeat ballot measure 2. The fund-raising campaign is now about half-way toward meeting its goal of $300,000. You can do your part by sending your donation to:

FRANK Committee

P.O. Box 33097

Juneau, AK 99803-3097

Don Smith



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