Closed primary results in confusion

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2002

The Alaska State Legislature passed a law requiring all political party primaries be closed. This means that persons registered in one of the six official political parties of Alaska will be required to use only that party's ballot in the upcoming primary election. Unfortunately, the closed primary system has resulted in confusion about how voting will work for the majority of Alaska voters registered as either nonpartisan or undeclared.

These voters will have a choice of six ballots and must pick one of the following, listed in alphabetical order: Alaska Democratic Party, Alaska Libertarian Party, Alaskan Independence Party, Green Party of Alaska, Republican Moderate Party, and Republican Party of Alaska.

Important: There is no separate ballot to vote on the one ballot measure. Each of the primary party ballots will include the ballot measure. This ballot measure also creates some confusion among the voters.

The measure is for or against a new method of voting known as preferential or instant runoff voting. Under the proposed system, voters could rank one to five candidate choices per office. A candidate who receives a majority of first-choice votes would be elected. If no candidate gets a majority, the candidate with the fewest first choice votes is defeated. The second votes of the defeated candidate(s) would be applied to the remaining candidates until one candidate has a majority. In a primary election, a voter may rank candidates only within one party.

This ballot measure would enact a new preferential voting system for state and federal elections. It does not change the election process for governor or lieutenant governor. League of Women Voters of Alaska opposes this ballot measure for numerous reasons (see State of Alaska Voter Election Guide).

Today, we urge all Alaskans to vote. Go to the polls on Tuesday Aug. 27, select a ballot and vote on the ballot measure. If you are unable to go to the polls, contact the Division of Elections for information on absentee voting. Call (907) 465-4611 or go to the Web site: www.elections.state.ak.us. Let your voice be heard.

Cheryl Jebe, president

League of Women Voters of Alaska

Juneau



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