Alex Gimarc: The lying liars who lied on Ballot Measure 2

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By ALEX GIMARC

Our friends from Alaskans for Better Elections, sensing a disturbance in the Force, have started an ad campaign on local radio in defense of Ballot Measure 2, the rewrite of state election law passed in 2020. 

The ad campaign is a purely defensive attempt to change the topic from the failure of Ballot Measure 2 (aka Ranked Choice Voting) by telling listeners that not only is the rewrite a smashing success, but Alaskans are overwhelmingly in support of it.  

I suppose that all depends on your perspective, which is where the “lying liars” part comes in.

If you look at their web site, the three big points of success are open primaries, ranked choice voting, and limiting dark money. The dark money piece is the most important, as their entire campaign for passage in 2020, all nicely focus-group-informed, was based on controlling dark money in Alaska elections.  

Note that they are proud of pushing a ballot initiative that did at least three different things, any of which could have been offered and passed individually. Before their self-serving opinion on Ballot Measure 2, the Alaska Supreme Court had regularly and rightfully thrown out any and all ballot initiatives that tried to do (in their opinion) more than one thing. How did the court miss this one?

The problem is that Ballot Measure 2 was carefully and specifically written to only apply to dark money spent in state and local races.  It was not written to control or even place any limit on dark money for candidates for federal office (US Senate, US House, President), or more tellingly, for ballot initiatives. This is why Sen. Mitch McConnell spent some $9 million to purchase Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s loyalty last year. Even Alaskans for Better Elections campaign was almost entirely funded by dark, outside money, as are their continued operations today.

In fact, Ballot Measure 2 had the opposite effect. Rather than controlling dark money, it put it in the driver’s seat, like it was last year. And dark money will continue to drive the campaign bus here in Alaska until Ballot Measure 2 is repealed.

If you remember the campaign, it started out mentioning the jungle primaries and ranked choice voting. Apparently, polling on both of those didn’t go so well, so it quickly and completely shifted to controlling dark money, which was a winner in their internal polling.  Too bad it didn’t do anything of the kind.  

The other failure of Ballot Measure 2 was seen in turnout, which was a miserable 44% in November, the last five off-year elections since 1998 all turned out at least 50% of the voting public. Note that 2018 was 49.8% which rounds up nicely to 50%.

What was the biggest difference in the campaigns over that period? Ranked choice voting and jungle primaries in 2020, which were rejected by the very people Alaskans for Better Elections ads today claim overwhelmingly support it.  

What to do about this? The best way will be for the legislature to take a repeal as Job One this session.  Make the repeal simple.  A three-sentence bill will suffice.

  • Sentence one:  Repeals Ballot Measure 2 completely.
  • Sentence two:  Reverts state election law to how it existed on Nov 1, 2020 (or some date before election day 2020).
  • Sentence three:  This law goes into effect upon signature of the governor.

Anything else will intentionally garbage up the discussion, which is probably another intentional attempt to keep it from passing.

I expect such legislation to pass the House, likely on a bipartisan basis. Our problem will be in the State Senate, which is focused on jacking up education spending and blowing up the state retirement system with a return to Tier One defined benefits.  Clearly, our work is cut out for us.

From here, Alaskans for Better Elections have assumed the Biden position. If their lips are moving, they are lying.

We had our experience with their new system. It didn’t work. Time to return to something we know that works and did work for the entire history of this state.

I really don’t mind trying things. What I do mind is refusing to admit the problem, and in turn refusing to fix it.  Ballot Measure 2 is a problem.  It is time to repeal it. Legislature, you and the governor are now up to bat.

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.

46 COMMENTS

  1. Voters like ranked choice voting, a majority, but not overwhelming. AG is being disengenuous overtly chastising dark money, that conservatives love, and covertly chastising RCV, that conservatives despise.

    • Where is your data to show a majority liked RCV? Everyone I have talked to think this abomination was a disgrace and resulted in the low voter turnout. RCV did exactly what they intended it to do elect Murkowski to sabotage our rights in DC.

      • Likely because the crowd you run in is in favor of right-wing extremists being elected Steven. RCV is known to give moderate candidates a better chance and get rid of the old primary system that often gave us those radicals. And I like it, too.

    • Yeah, I’m going to need a source on that Frank. As far as dark money goes, both sides of the uniparty love it, not necessarily conservatives.

    • Another logic-free post from Frank Rast, the fly-by king of the establishment shills on MRAK.
      .
      In case you did not read the article, Frank, the significant drop in voter turnout in the 2022 elections almost certainly proves that the majority of Alaska voters did NOT like rank choice voting.
      .
      And it is only you radical leftists who keep pushing these novel, untransparent and convoluted tinkerings of the voting system in Alaska, such as the abysmally opaque, error-prone and corruption-inviting mail-in voting. Now just why might that be? Because every such scheme suits your purposes, and skews the results to favor power-lusting radical leftist candidates.

    • Frank, you really need to work on your reading comprehension. You sound just like the Alaskans for Better Elections gonzos. Are you on retainer?

      If voters so liked Prop 2, why, pray tell, didn’t they show up to vote in November? Please show your work. Cheers –

  2. A glossy flier from Alaskans for Better Elections showed up in the mail at the same time as a rah-rah for Mary Peltola glossy flier, about a week and a half ago. Out of the blue. Literally, out of the BLUE.

  3. RCV is a complete disaster for Alaskans and Alaska, despite the overly lambaste ad campaign, where by RCV is simply diminishing any-and-all trust, faith and confidence in the election process.

  4. How many problems are their with bowel movement…. errr…. I mean Ballot Measure 2?
    .
    First of all, the jungle primary. Please explain why a card carrying Republican should have any say whatsoever on who represents the Democrats on the General Election primary?
    And, the top four vote getters show up on the ballot, regardless of party? I wonder how the leftists would feel if the Republicans got all four top slots?
    .
    Then there is the election itself. If your first choice is not the front runner, you get a second vote. Whereas the person who selected the front runner as their 1st rank only gets one vote.
    .
    And, what about the write in vote? Why is there only one write in line on the ballot? If I can rank four names printed on the ballot, I should be able to rank four write in names. But, the ballot only has one write in line.
    .
    Finally, the ads from Alaskans for Better Elections. What a hoot. Do they really think “more people running for office” is a win? There were what?? 30 names on the primary for the US House? More? And, how many of those names got an unmeasurable percentage of the primary vote? Who cares? Seriously, who cares how many people toss their name into the hat, when realistically only a handful will have a chance of getting sufficient votes to get on the ballot.
    .
    And, one more thing. it is all well and good to ask a five year old to rank their four favorite animals. Their ranking will not be locked in place for two/four/six years. If you go out to eat, and the restaurant does not have Coke, you do not have to drink Pepsi exclusively for the next few years. The problem with RCV is not the ranking, it is the voting.

  5. I think everyone, regardless of what party they claim preference to, is sick and tired of these nameless political adds generated by unknown sources that are intended to sway public opinion towards an undisclosed goal only known to the secretive creators of their phony cover names. If you live in Seattle, San Francisco, or even Alaska and you have enough money to pay for your opinion, then own it. We are sick of this crap. Be it known who you are and we will decide on the value of your opinion. If you are not ashamed of yourself it should pose no problem.

  6. Ranked Choice Voting didn’t fail. It worked precisely as designed for those who created it and sold it to a gullible electorate. Now, since half of the electorate sees it as a success for their interests, it will not successfully be repealed like SB91 was when crime shot up exponentially immediately after passage and only street criminals benefitted.
    Want it repealed? Learn how to use it successfully against the left and RINOs. You’ll see repeal so fast your head will spin.

  7. The biggest thing driving voter turnout %’s is the automatic voter registration with PFD application thing (had nothing to do with rank choice etc). So your argument about driving down turnout sounds reasonable but is a complete fabrication. I checked one election as a test (from your sample)… 2006 AK had ~675k ppl and 238k voted, 2022 Ak had ~732k ppl and 267k voted. 2006 = 35% of pop, 2022 = 36% of pop.

    Good luck putting together a cogent argument next time!

    …Or not, this was good for an appreciated laugh.

  8. Not overwhelming? A 1.1% majority is miniscule. The 50.55-49.45 spread wasn’t much. 170,251 voters didn’t like it in 2020, and now that we’ve seen how well it (didn’t) work so well, those with a negative opinion has probably grown. We’ll get an idea of how unpopular Ranked Choice is when we see how fast the required petition numbers come in to repeal it.

  9. I’m a proud independent who leans conservative. I’ll vote for most Republicans, most of the time. However, the party has moved too far to the right. The closed primaries favored candidates out of the mainstream (on the right and left). Alaska’s politics are center right, and that’s what RCV has hopefully facilitated… a commonsense, center right government that recognizes fiscal restraint AND the value of necessary public services AND a modest but not unaffordable PFD. All of this venom over RCV is coming from far right wing nuts who can’t stand the idea of having to compete in a primary election against more sensible candidates. Get over it!

    • The irony of your comment is it was created to save the political bacon of Princess, who knew she’d lose a traditional election process.

      But you do you.

    • Jim,
      I’m a proud conservative who leans independent. I’ve voted for Republicans most of my life, I don’t think the party has moved right at all…if anything it’s moved to the center or even to the left. Republicans used to be the party of fiscal responsibility, it’s hard to say that nowadays. Fiscal restraint isn’t exactly in the wheelhouse of any politician but when cuts are measured in how much less you raise the budget, that isn’t conservative or fiscally responsible.

      The issue with RCV has almost nothing to do with what side of the aisle one resides in, or even if you are in the middle of the aisle. It has to do with one person one vote, it has to do with transparency, it has to do with proper counting of votes, it has to do with ensuring voters trust in the election process, and it has to do with the disenfranchisement of voters.

      • As long as we are defining ourselves here, I consider myself a fiscal conservative yet social liberal. That said, I’m not unhappy with RCV as many of the candidates I supported were successful. And I sort of like it that Alaska’s elections are now getting that 50% plus majority, that it didn’t have prior to RCV, without the added expense of a run-off election between top two finishers.
        What a country! Right?

    • JIM,
      You say the Republicans have moved too far to the right, I disagree…in that The left has moved so far to the Extreme left,that it seems the Republicans have returned to thier consevative roots. Since they have returned to the Right(when in the Bush days, they leaned abit more liberal)..and it just looks like they moved more extreme to the right.

      • kc, you have hit it on the nose here!
        .
        It is precisely for your explanation of the obvious — that the left in this country, virtually in lockstep and in utter conformity to each other — have moved FAR from where they were, politically, just a decade or two ago. I won’t even say that they have moved farther to the extreme left, because in fact they have not; what they have embraced, almost to a man (or woman, or “non-cis-gendered-binary-other”) is pure authoritarianism, if not totalitarianism: wholesale censorship, wealth confiscation on a previously unimaginable level, institutionalized racism, the mandatory glorification of the deviant and the dysfunctional, the complete embrace of corporatism (a.k.a. fascism) and neofeudal globalists, worldwide warmongering, the total centralization of power, and extreme governmental overreach in every sphere of life .
        .
        Today’s so-called “leftists”, by any traditional definition of that term, are in point of fact literally nothing of the sort.

  10. RCV is racist. Many indigenous Alaskans had their ballots tossed. 1 out of every 6 ballots was tossed in some parts of Alaska. These Alaskans were so frustrated by the complexities of the system that they were worn out when it was time to get the basics down, such as getting identifiers or witness signatures.

    The legislature needs to step in and fix this mess.

    • Elections are within the duties of the Lt. Governor. Lt. governor is under the Governor. Start there with your original concern. They were the ones who wrote the directions on the ballots.

      Why ask the legislature to fix the executive’s mistakes?

    • But with RCV it is one person, up to four votes. Depends on whether you vote for the front runner, or for an also-ran. Pick poorly on your first through third choices, and you get several votes.

      • As you well know, you get the same number of votes as you would if real runoff elections were held instead of instant runoffs. Yes, you have to decide up front who your vote would go to if your favorite loses, so in that sense it’s a little different. But I think you’re misrepresenting how it works. If you have a problem with the concept of majority rule, why not just say so?

  11. One person one vote is the standard per the Alaska Constitution. As for contentions that it is the governor’s fault or the Lt. governor’s fault, let’s get real. It was Alaskans that voted for this system and it is Alaskans that will have to ultimately vote it out. Stop blaming anyone else and get cracking!

  12. I get it; if your goal is to empower those you support and disempower those you don’t, you’re against RCV. Here’s the problem: many moderates and independents were tired of having their general election options dictated by political parties and/or their hyper-partisan primary party voters. These voters liked the idea of being in charge of who advanced from the primary and who prevailed in the general – and most of them liked the outcomes. They won’t support candidates or initiatives that advocate removing their newfound power.

    So the real question is, how do you convince enough voters to support repealing RCV? You’ve got most (but not all) of the base, which is not enough. What argument will convince someone that is not a fan of parties? The silly one person, one vote is not that argument. These voters know that the ranking system is essentially an instant runoff, not a ballot stuffing strategy. Arguing that it was confusing is also not a winning strategy; these voters know ranking is easy. We do it all the time for sports teams, movies, actors, cities, bosses, etc. Arguing that we can’t rank politicians is arguing that you need a one of Bill Engvall’s signs.

  13. RCV is a disgusting manipulation of our electoral system. It has disenfranchised a segment of the population that found it confusing. I personally know of no one that voted for it or is in favor of it. Supporters of RCV likely also support Drag Queen Story time for kids, partial birth abortion and any media that allows or promotes a conservative viewpoint. I suspect like obedient sheep you all got your jab and boosters as well. Dark money bodes ill for fair elections and RCV has got to go.

  14. I voted against RCV, but have now decided that I like it. It gives us way more choice in the primary, takes away the power of the political parties to choose our two final candidates. I don’t see it being repealed, the majority of people got either their first or second candidate elected, so I would think the majority is pretty content.

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