Alex Gimarc: Repeal Ballot Measure 2 and ditch ranked choice voting, jungle primary

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By ALEX GIMARC

Job One with the new Legislature is the total repeal of Ballot Measure 2, the rewrite of Alaska election law in 2020.  As it has been two years since the ballot initiative was passed, the Legislature can repeal it with a simple majority vote and Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s signature.

The first public position on this was Senator Gary Stevens last week following the announcement of a Democrat-led majority in the state senate.  Stevens didn’t think there was much support for a repeal

While accurate today, neither he nor his majority have even asked the question, one that not only would the minority (albeit small) support, but the majority would at least be forced to discuss in public.

So, the job is to convince the new Legislature that their new Job One is to repeal the entire ballot initiative. In terms of energy expended, results achieved, this would far outweigh any effort at a repeal initiative. Though that initiative should be held as a promised response should the Legislature not do their job on this.

At the top level, Ballot Measure 2, which was sold during the campaign for its passage as a vehicle to eliminate so-called dark money from state politics, has been an abject failure, with over $9 million in Outside money spent by Sen. Mitch McConnell’s political action committee to reelect Sen. Lisa Murkowski. 

A similar amount of Outside money was spent to defeat the constitutional convention. With that money, all of it dark, all of it Outside, all of it corrupting and overwhelming in-state campaign funding, the stated goal of Ballot Measure 2 was a miserable and complete failure. Not only did its passage not stop the Outside money, but the flow of that money increased to record levels.

None of this even touches on or discusses any of the other goodies tucked into the legislation, including ranked choice balloting, jungle primaries, and any number of disclosure provisions.  

Happily, there are already proposals for repeal floating around. These have split into two approaches. One would repeal the entire mess (my preferred solution). The other would repeal pieces and leave the rest. I prefer the former, as it is simple, understandable, and can be done in two rather short sentences.

Why? The latter gets down into the weeds and allows Ballot Measure 2 backers to reprise the obstruct, distract, and lie routine used so well to campaign for its passage. Few Alaskans voted for Ballot Measure 2 because they wanted a jungle primary.  Few voted for it because they wanted ranked choice voting. A lot of Alaskans voted for some sort of limit on dark money, which was the hook used by its backers to get voters to support the ballot measure in its entirety.

Response of the repeal crowd to this should be similar to what the Senate Bill 91 repeal supporters did a few years ago. In passing SB 91, we addressed what we thought was a problem. We tried to solve it. And the solution ended up creating worse problems than it solved.  In short, the solution ended up being worse than the problem. Like SB 91, when something you try doesn’t work, repeal it, and try again.

There is already a piece of legislation floating around that wants to repeal a few chunks of Prop 2. It is a mere 33 pages long. This is a grievous and unforced error. On one hand, it acknowledges that the Alaska Supreme Court, which approved Ballot Measure 2, screwed up by approving a ballot initiative that had more than one topic. We don’t want to let them off that particular hook.  

On the other, and more importantly, it intentionally muddies the water, opening an entirely new horizon for the backers of Ballot Measure 2 to obstruct, distract and lie about.

I could not think of a dumber thing to do.  

If you want to repeal Ballot Measure 2, be honest and consistent with the voters. Say we tried something. It didn’t work. Here’s the proof.  Let’s roll back to something that we know worked and start over again. That way we get what we want without insulting Ballot Measure 2 supporters. This has the extra added attraction of actually being true.  

Want to repeal this? Keep the repeal very simple, and repeal the whole bloody mess. Roll back to a system that provided predictable results and allowed groups in Alaska to select their candidates. Doing it piecemeal simply invites backers of Ballot Measure 2 to do what they do best, quickly defeating our efforts with yet another wad of Outside money. And they are very good at that.  

Alex Gimarc lives in Anchorage since retiring from the military in 1997. His interests include science and technology, environment, energy, economics, military affairs, fishing and disabilities policies. His weekly column “Interesting Items” is a summary of news stories with substantive Alaska-themed topics. He was a small business owner and Information Technology professional.

42 COMMENTS

  1. Outside money continues to be used to assert incorrectly that Alaskans are satisfied with Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). There are slick television commercials on the air now and surely we will hear Mike Porcaro reiterate his (past) unwavering support of RCV with commercials on his radio station and afternoon programming. There appears to be an unending supply of Outside money to convince Alaskans that we like RCV when, in fact, most of us do not.

    I worked at our local polling place during the 2022 primary and general elections. A large percentage of voters who voted at our location did not know how to “do” RCV, could not figure it out even with instructions from onsite election workers, and some potential voters gave up after they experienced two “spoiled” (unusable due to RCV errors) ballots. We calculated that 1 in 10 voters needed two or more ballots in order to cast one error-free ballot that the machine could count.

    RCV is very bad for Alaska and Alaskans. I certainly want the Alaska legislature to get this message “loud and clear” and to vote to eliminate it as soon as practical and possible.

    • Good luck. Both majority coalition leaders have stated they didn’t think repealing BM2 would pass the legislature… And so far, no one is even talking about introducing such legislation. I’d love to see it happen though.

    • “A large percentage of voters who voted at our location did not know how to “do” RCV, could not figure it out even with instructions from onsite election workers”

      Presumably these are the same people who get confused at the ice cream shop when it is out of their favorite flavor and can’t figure out they can have their second favorite flavor instead?

      • Yes, these are surely the same folks. Hopefully tomorrow the ice cream shop will have their favorite flavor and life will be so much simpler. Alas, for them no ice cream today.

        • Demonstrating clearly that more voters is not the solution, more informed voters is the solution.
          .
          A better republic will result.
          Sincerely;
          Maury Suttman

  2. Repeal of Ballot Measure 2 is not even on the Senate Majority Caucus Radar. The losers always complain about dark money.

    • Not really seeing that many complaints about dark money as a justification for repeal.
      Most of the complaints are about the jungle primary, and the so-called “instant run off” otherwise known as ranking.
      .
      But, because the dark money is an easy target, obviously that will be the avenue to get rid of all of BM2.

  3. Absolutely yes!
    .
    But it is a given that every power-lusting radical leftist will fight any repeal of this corrupt and corrupting voting system tooth and nail.

  4. Great article. One problem: the Legislature will never repeal RCV. Why not? Because too many of the elected state legislators (and Murkowski/Peltola) benefitted from it. RCV will only be repealed through a voter Initiative, followed by a very good informational campaign, and a fall 2023 election. Starting now would be a wise decision.

    • And: Let’s start recalls on any politician that doesn’t support repeal of this garbage. THINK ABOUT IT ! Prior to RCV, how many people went to vote thinking; If I can’t have XX to represent me-I want YY or XY ? The concept violates common sense. This was foisted on us by Traitors to our whole system of Free and Fare Elections (hard to find). Repeal Petitions might just reveal Hanky Panky in our Election System

  5. The legislature, Senate at least, is not listening. They have no intention to listen or act on repeal. We heard that in the campaigns, though it was watered down. But now that they are in office, they will use their power to ignore you.

  6. Agree 150% except the part about repealing ranked choice voting through the legislature. They will NEVER, under ANY circumstances work to overturn it because most of them see it as a way to maintain their positions. This action will need to be for a complete overturn and through an initiative. The legislature must be bypassed.

  7. Trusting the legislature to do anything is a fool’s errand. The Democrat takeover of the state senate showed that. All of the republicans were more interested in keeping their cherished chairmanships and committee assignments. I totally agree with Marla. Only a great informational campaign and an initiative to be voted on by Alaskans will do the job. And even that, it will take one big commitment and fight to get it done. The article, however was well thought out.

  8. How? The legislature we voted in says it’s not gonna happen. A local talk show host/advertising guru will fight it.

    It’s past time people like you face reality. We did this to ourselves and are gonna pay the consequences for years.

    We voted it in, we voted against a Constitutional Convention, and we voted in the worst two senators in the nation.

    We did this.

  9. I see no reason to hold a repeal initiative back while waiting for the legislature to act. Letting our legislators know that we want this BM2 repealed in full AND advancing a repeal initiative seems prudent to me.

  10. Sarah Palin is taking the lead to rid us of this disaster- by referendum. One out of every eight ballots were rejected in rural Alaska in the special primary election. One wonders how the socialists will justify continuing to disenfranchise minority voters.

    Good article by Alex.

    • Palin has moved on and good riddance. She only seeks National attention and this all. She stabbed us in the back for a second time by returning and mudding the water even more. RCV did its job it kept the RINO Murkowski in her big DC houses to rule over her subjects like any ignorant princess. The time to repeal RCV is now before it does even more harm to our state.

    • The Mased Man got it right. Palin has very limited attention span to deal with some chore like writing and advancing an initiative. If there is a less suitable person to promote a statewide initiative, it’s not obvious. Palin’s negative rating is over 60%. She’s a quitter and done, by her own acts and omissions.

  11. If “elected” officials have any conscience left, they should react to massive constituent demands for repeal. Laying low and waiting for someone to fix our problems is how we ended up in this mess. Get involved – send emails, call them, become the pest that won’t go away….some will still react to citizen pressure to do the right thing.

    • Take a play from the Democratic playbook and turn it against them. If you see them public at a restaurant or gas station or in the grocery store, get in the face and let them know they are not wanted until they do the bidding of us their constituents. Remind them they work for us not special interest or outside of Alaska forces.

    • I have never received any feedback from any of our legislative MISrepresentatives, they are cowards. When they are called upon to do what is right, they fail. They are not listening, how else did we end up with the demoncratic coup that just turned Alaska BLUE?

  12. Article about this on Alaska’s News Source today, including someone who is working (or a group of someones) to overturn it. Of course, the article didn’t provide a link or contact info to this group, so after work, I hope to dig further. Maybe Suzanne can dig and provide this info? Thanks!

    • The adoption of RCV was done democratically. No fraud in adoption or in implementation by Division of Elections.

      • Lots of things that were enacted democratically are also wrong.
        And, history is overflowing with examples of the Government bodies overseeing elections being full of fraud. How are you so sure there was none when BM2 squeaked by at the absolute last minute?

        • Your thinking fraud just because you didn’t agree with the results sounds just like Cadet Bone Spurs calling fraud with no evidence. Give it a break or come up with some evidence CB.

          • I am thinking fraud because of things like a candidate for Governor refusing to recuse herself from overseeing the elections.
            Because of ballot counters blocking off windows.
            Because of a town of about 700 somehow casting over 1000 votes for a candidate.
            Because video evidence shows the same person dropping off multiple ballots in several different drop boxes.
            Because a district this is about half/half R vs. D somehow manages to vote overwhelmingly for one party, instead of about half and half.
            .
            And, I am thinking fraud because the overwhelming majority of the times these “mistakes” happen, one party always seems to be the beneficiary.
            .
            And, if Republicans were winning in these elections, I have no doubt your tune would be very different.

  13. Good essay, Alex.
    .
    Instead of petitoning specifically to repeal ranked choice voting, would it be advantageous to petiton for repeal to status quo ante, in other words, reinstating the election system which existed at a certain date –before– Dominion vote tabulation machinery, mail-in balloting, automatic voter registration, State enrollment in the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), and ranked choice voting were introduced, thereby eliminating all those problems at once?
    .
    A report on ERIC can be read at thefederalist.com/2022/11/21/alabama-withdraws-from-democrat-operative-controlled-voter-registration-database/.
    .
    Seems like quite a wish list, but it makes you wonder whether ranked choice voting is the only problem or one symptom of a much larger problem which could be fixed if the operation of Alaska’s election system were rolled back to what it was before today’s new and improved version showed up.

    • Spot on, Morrigan, with your point on RCV being only one of several issues that are wrong/illegal/unconstitutional. But we are at a point where we need to concentrate fire on the highest value target. Right now that’s RCV.
      After that is removed, the next logical move is to restore the party primary system and keep it a closed primary so only party members can vote on party candidates.

      • Thanx, Paul. With respect, you get the flesh-eating bacteria and you want to cut out only part of it?
        .
        Beauty of being surrounded, which we seem to be, is you can attack in all directions, which means time-on-target for all the HVT’s.
        .
        Why all HVT’s? The HVT’s have to exist together, be mutually supportive, for Alaska’s election system to be as corrupted as it appears to be.
        .
        Take ’em all out, return Alaska’s election system to what it was before they showed up, voters might just have a chance once more to vote in reasonably free, fair, and transparent elections.
        .
        Not saying this cures everything…
        .
        But it might make the corruption harder to hide if election observers know what they’re observing, which is not entirely a bad thing, no?

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