Empire editorial: Vote 'yes' on voter initiative changes

Posted: Tuesday, October 26, 2004

This editorial appeared in Wednesday's Ketchikan Daily News:

Alaskans are an independent breed who will do it our way. As a result of our spirit comes Ballot Measure No. 1.

The measure, sponsored by Saxman Rep. Bill Williams, attempts to change Alaska's initiative process as it is described in the constitution. If approved it would require initiative sponsors to collect signatures equal to 7 percent of the voters in the most recent election from 30 of the 40 state House districts. The law now requires sponsors to collect signatures from 10 percent of the voters in the most recent election, with at least one signature from each of 27 House districts.

The effect is that initiatives must have significant support from throughout the state before being placed on a ballot. No longer would Anchorage be able to put an initiative on the ballot with only one signature from District 1, which includes the Ketchikan area. But more importantly, no longer would special interests from outside of Alaska be able to fly into Anchorage, lobby, gather signatures and pay for rallying support for the initiative among the Anchorage-centered population without considering other areas of the state, and dictate what Alaskans from Nome to Ketchikan should consider in our constitution. Those specials interests follow their signature gathering with hundreds of thousands of dollars to persuade Alaskan voters to support the initiative. They don't look at an initiative or an issue from an Alaskan point of view; they put forth initiatives often contrary to the betterment of Alaska. They are concerned only with their special interest, and they desire to impose it on others.

This happens throughout the United States. The difference is that Alaskans prefer to live according to our rules and not those of outside special interests.

The ballot measure, if approved, would inhibit the influence of outside interests. Ballot measures more likely than not would have statewide support, indicated by the 7 percent of signatures from a greater number of districts. Alaskans probably wouldn't see as many measures, but then we wouldn't have to pay for them, either. Every measure represents an expense of time and supplies to the state. It's right that those pushing them should bear some of the expense before an issue gets to voters.

This measure will franchise Alaskans outside the highly populated communities. And it will result in Alaskans deciding what is best for Alaskans in the fairest way now possible.

Vote in favor of Ballot Measure No.1.



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