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New ballot irks voters

Citizens voting absentee object to separate party ballots

Posted: Monday, August 26, 2002

If absentee voters are any indication, people going to the polls Tuesday will be irritated about Alaska's first six-ballot primary.

In Juneau, District 1 polling places are:

• Douglas: Douglas Library, 1016 3rd St.

• Juneau No. 1: Juneau Assembly Chambers, 155 S. Seward St.

• Juneau No. 2: Holy Trinity Church, 325 Gold St.

• Juneau No. 3: Juneau Senior Center, 895 12th St.

• Juneau No. 4: Cedar Park, 3414 Foster Ave.

• Juneau Airport: Nugget Mall, 8745 Glacier Hwy.

• Lemon Creek: AEL&P, 5601 Tonsgard Ct.

• North Douglas: Juneau Fire Hall, 820 Glacier Ave.

• Salmon Creek: Wildflower Court, Hospital Drive, behind Bartlett Regional Hospital.

• Switzer Creek: Alaska Marine Highway building, 6858 Glacier Highway.

District 2 polling places are:

• Mendenhall No. 1: Mendenhall Mall, 9105 Mendenhall Mall Road.

• Mendenhall No. 2: Safeway, 3033 Vintage Blvd.

• Mendenhall No. 3: Glacier Valley Baptist Church, 3921 Mendenhall Loop Road.

• Mendenhall No. 4: Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, 4212 Mendenhall Loop Road.

• Lynn Canal: Auke Bay Ferry Terminal, Mile 13.8 Glacier Hwy.

• Auke Bay-Fritz Cove: Auke Bay Fire Hall, 12 Mi. Glacier Hwy.

Alaskans going to the polls for Tuesday's primary will find six ballots. Registered members of one of the six recognized parties can vote only their party's ballot. Voters registered as nonpartisan, undeclared or a member of another party can choose the ballot they want.

Ballots only will list candidates of the selected party running in that district. Some parties have no candidates for some races. Here is an approximation of what the ballots will look like:

Democratic Party ballot

U.S. Senator:

• Frank J. Vondersaar

• Theresa Nangle Obermeyer

U.S. House:

• Dae Miles

• Clifford Mark Greene

Governor:

• Bruce J. Lemke

• Michael J. Beasley

• Fran Ulmer

Lieutenant governor:

• Ernie Hall

State Senate (District B only)

• Kim S. Elton

State Senate (District C only)

• Georgianna Lincoln

State House (District 3 only)

• Beth Kerttula

State House (District 4 only)

• Tim Grussendorf

State House (District 5 only)

• Albert Kookesh

Republican Party ballot

U.S. Senator:

• Ted Stevens

• Mike Aubrey

U.S. House:

• Don E. Young

Governor:

• Frank H. Murkowski

• Wayne A. Ross

• Eric E. Wieler

• Brad Snowden

Lieutenant governor:

• Sarah Palin

• Gail Phillips

• Loren D. Leman

• Paul R. Wieler

• Robin L. Taylor

State Senate (District B only)

• Cathy Engstrom Munoz

State Senate (District C only)

• Mac Carter

State House (District 3 only)

• Mike Race

State House (District 4 only)

• Bruce B. Weyhrauch

State House (District 5 only)

• Dennis Watson

• Gary Graham

Alaskan Independence Party ballot

U.S. Senator:

• Jim Dore

Governor:

• Don Wright

• Samuel Acevedo Fevos, Sr.

• John Wayne Glotfelty

• Nels Anderson, Jr.

• Casey Cockerham

• Harold A. "Sandy" Haldane

Lieutenant governor:

• Daniel DeNardo

Libertarian Party ballot

U.S. Senator:

• Leonard J. "Len" Karpinski

U.S. House:

• Rob Clift

Governor:

• Billy Toien

Lieutenant governor:

• Al A. Anders

Green Party ballot

U.S. Senator:

• Jim Sykes

• Thomas M Higgins

U.S. House:

• Russell F. deForest

Governor:

• Erica "Desa" L. Jacobsson

Lieutenant governor:

• Diane E. Benson

Republican Moderate Party ballot

Governor:

• Dawn M. Mendias

All ballots

Ballot Measure 1:

• Initiative Implementing Alternative Voting Electoral System. This bill enacts preferential voting for state and federal elections, except governor. Voters would 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 vote, the candidate with fewest first choice votes is defeated. Then, remaining candidates receive the next choice votes of voters whose first choice candidate was defeated. This process continues until one candidate gets a majority of the combined votes. In a primary election, a voter may only rank candidates within one party. Shall this initiative become law?

Unlike previous elections, the new ballot system restricts all voters to choosing from among the candidates of only one party. And those voters registered with one of six recognized parties will have no choice of which ballot they will vote.

So far, the change hasn't gone over well, said state Division of Elections Absentee Voting Coordinator Amanda Webb.

"People aren't real happy about it," Webb said. "They don't like the fact they're now limited to a political party. Most people like the way it was before."

The primary features separate ballots for the Republican, Democratic, Alaskan Independence, Libertarian, Green and Republican Moderate parties. Of 453,241 registered Alaska voters, 234,583 - or 51 percent - are undeclared, nonpartisan or registered with other parties.

Party members seem more likely to appreciate the one-party-only ballots, possibly because they're familiar with similar closed primaries in other states, Webb said.

"I seem to hear more from undeclared or nonpartisan voters. I haven't heard from that many regular party members," she said. "I have many people saying they want to vote for a Democrat in one race and a Republican in another."

Republican leaders, concerned opponents were crossing over to weaken their slate, pushed for a closed primary for years and won the right to have one for their party in 1992, 1994 and 2000. But all other parties' candidates were listed on a separate, joint ballot those years. Recent court rulings and action by the state Legislature led to the six-ballot system in use for Tuesday's primary.

Elections Division spokeswoman Virginia Breeze said extra staff will be at each precinct Tuesday to handle the additional duties associated with having six separate ballots. Nonparty members who have to choose can point to their choice to keep their preferences private, she said.

"If they want to come in and announce they want the Green Party ballot that's their privilege and right, but we are protective of the voter's right to secrecy or privacy," she said.

Turnout is expected to be low Tuesday, but not just because of the new ballots. Many races, including for Juneau's three legislative seats, have no primary challenges. And many of the statewide in-party races have clear favorites, either incumbents or well-funded public officials.

Primary turnouts in Alaska have been dropping, with record lows of 25 percent in 1998 and 17 percent in 2000. State officials hope to do better, but there's no guarantee, said Breeze.

"We think it's going to be low based on an overall sense of a dissatisfied electorate and also from the history of primary elections, not just here but nationwide," she said.

Some 9,120 absentee ballot requests were received, which is more than usual, Webb said. But she said that may be due to a large Republican Party mailing of absentee ballot forms.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Those needing to know where to vote can call 465-3021 or (888) 383-8683.

Ed Schoenfeld can be reached at eschoenfeld@juneauempire.com.



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