Ballot Measure 2's jungle primary, ranked choice voting set for court Monday - Must Read Alaska
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Ballot Measure 2’s jungle primary, ranked choice voting set for court Monday

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The State of Alaska will defend Ballot Measure 2 in court on Monday. Ranked-choice voting and open primaries were passed by voters in November with BM2, and it’s now law, unless overturned by a court, the Legislature, or voters.

Bob Bird, chairman of the Alaska Independence Party, and Scott Kohlhaas, who ran as a Libertarian in 2020, sued on behalf of the minor parties, which they say are being harmed by the jungle primary scheme, because it removes parties from the Primary and leaves voters with mystifying choices in the General Election. With Republican Ken Jacobus as their attorney, the two filed a lawsuit in December, saying that Ballot Measure 2 harms individual rights to free political association because it takes parties out of the primary.

Ballot Measure 2 was the scheme of attorney Scott Kendall, who also is involved with the creation and legal defense of the Recall Dunleavy Committee. He is the former campaign manager for Sen. Lisa Murkowski and many political observers believe that BM2 was created to protect Murkowski from a Republican primary.

Under Kendall’s scheme passed by voters, all party candidates compete on the same ballot; the Republican Party doesn’t get to have its own ballot anymore.

The top four vote-getters advance to the General Election, where voters will rank their preferences, 1-4.

Votes are counted and reallocated to second and third choice candidates until one of the candidates gets a majority. It’s a complicated scheme that requires computer counting and is nearly impossible to audit by hand counting.

The lawsuit claims the scheme violates federal and state constitutions relating to political association and free speech. It’s a tough argument: While no other state has both jungle primaries and ranked choice voting, California has jungle primaries, while Maine has ranked choice voting.

Ranked choice voting was what led to the catastrophe in the New York City mayoral race this month, but the mistake was caught and corrected. The confusion has cast suspicion, however, as to the integrity of the election system in New York City and whether ranked-choice voting is all its cracked up to be.

The Alaska litigants are also concerned that any candidate can now put whatever party affiliation they want next to their name. A Democrat or Socialist could say he is a Republican, for instance, and the ballot would have to show that. With no party primaries, the political parties lost control over who gets to represent their political organization, which is an aspect of the constitutional argument of being able to associate as a political group and advance candidates under a political platform.

The Republican Party looked at the lawsuit and considered filing one itself, but in the end did not do so and did not join the lawsuit from the Alaskan Independence Party and Libertarian Party.

One of the arguments of the litigants is that ranked-choice voting makes voters less able to make a good decision because they have no idea which candidates might be eliminated and they might have voted differently if they had known that one candidate or another had been advanced or dropped through the reallocation of votes.

Republican leaders gathering in Fairbanks this weekend at their State Central Committee quarterly meeting expressed concern over Ballot Measure 2, but many thought the best way to proceed is with a ballot initiative to reverse it. That would take millions of dollars, just as it did for Kendall, who used dark money from Outside Alaska, with his Alaskans for Better Elections group that created the voting scheme.

Representing Bird and Kohlhaas is fellow plaintiff Ken Jacobus. The state will be represented by Assistant Attorney General Margaret Paton-Walsh, and intervenors on behalf of the Ballot Measure 2 side is Kendall, former Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth, and Sam Gottstein. The case will be heard by Anchorage Superior Court Judge Gregory Miller.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Suzanne, could you include addresses where we could donate to help the fight?
    And what about mixing issues on the Ballot Measure? Doesn’t the law require a ballot measure to be single issue, whereas this covered ranked choice and donor revelation?

    • The state supreme court already ruled that the measure is constitutional. It is a single issue measure, that being election reform. This new legal challenge won’t change anything. Plus the voters approved of it.

      • Derek, you, yourself just stated in two comments that this is a multiple issue measure, thus unconstitutional despite the earlier ruling. Are we a nation of laws or only laws for the ‘little people’ to favor the progressive side? And I am not a republican.

    • The state supreme court already ruled it as constitutional. It is a one issue measure, that being election reform. And the voters passed it. This legal challenge won’t change anything.

  • A full forensic audit should be performed to ensure that Ballot Measure 2 even was passed. There was clearly malfeasance going on during November 2020. If a full forensic audit actually proves that certain candidates and ballot measures were voted in by legal voters, it would be a total surprise to all of us legitimate voters.

    • I agree. I never heard a positive word about it form anyone. It is baffling that it passed and suspicious.

      • Thank you for voicing my concerns. Yes, we need a forensic audit of Alaska’s 2020 elections but how do we get the ball rolling and who would lead such an effort? I know there was a representative from Alaska that went to the Arizona Audit. Does anyone know who it was? We could reach out to him with support to get it set up and funded. The Republican Party must push for this!

        • You Republican’s keep showing your cards. It’s clear that you guys don’t care about democracy. The people of Alaska voted for this. Their voices will be heard

    • Amen!! This MUST be done!!

      • It passed because while it was part one of a three part ballot measure the flood of outside dark money that funded the TV campaigns only mentioned the third part, ending the scruge of dark money and how this must be passed. I honestly don’t believe most folks even knew they were making epic changes to the way the vote is counted. Pray the judge is inspired to right this horrible wrong.

        • Election reform isn’t horrible. The people of Alaska voted in favor of it. Nothing will change that. Also this measure helps shed a light on dark money, by making spending on elections open to the public.

    • Thank you for voicing my concerns. Yes, we need a forensic audit of Alaska’s 2020 elections but how do we get the ball rolling and who would lead such an effort? I know there was a representative from Alaska that went to the Arizona Audit. Does anyone know who it was? We could reach out to him with support to get it set up and funded. The Republican Party must push for this!

  • Ranked choice “BM2” is a B.S. scheme !!

  • > “Republican leaders gathering in Fairbanks this weekend at their State Central Committee quarterly meeting expressed concern over Ballot Measure 2, but many thought the best way to proceed is with a ballot initiative to reverse it.”

    They’re probably right about that.

  • Where is our elected leadership at with our own forensic audit of the 2020 election in Alaska? The silence from Governor Dunleavy and the legislators is deafening. Get the damn audit rolling you weak RINO’s! I seriously doubt this passed legitimately. Nothing gets fixed until we fix what happened in 2020.

    • Since when has Dunleavy fought for anything?

  • The simplicity of the jungle primary is basic.
    The people select who will run for office, not some back room party officials on the payroll.

    • Interestingly, the jungle primary / final 4 routine completely prohibits petition candidates and indys on the Nov ballot. If you aren’t one of the final 4 coming out of the primary, you cannot legally play in November. This would have prohibited the Walker – Mallott Unity Ticket in 2014. This will remain until the AK judiciary rewrites state election law on the fly once again, which I wouldn’t put past them. Cheers –

  • Ranked choice voting is crafted specifically for those who ascribe to Comrade Stalin’s viewpoint, “It is enough that the people know there was an election, the people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.”
    The 2020 election required such large volumes of fraud, in so many jurisdictions to produce the correct outcome, that it became problematic. Using “Covid” as an excuse cannot be replayed in perpetuity, therfore mail in only or ranked choice schemes are functional solutions.
    The Alaska GOP is not conservative and very corrupt. If the special interests who control the Alaska GOP get burned, they will oppose it.
    For now, it’s a fascinating concept to let stand and likely have Murkowski re elected, while the voters think they are in control. Appearances are important to top down, socialist totalitarian systems. The People’s Republic of China, the German Democratic Republic, ect.

  • TY MRA.com
    This helps to give me some hope that more can be done to rectify this issue. My major objection is the imposibility to Audit results from the mess this makes if the counting and verification.

  • It seems to me that this ranked choice voting is be unconstitutional just based on the fact it was passed through a petition as opposed to legislated by the State legislature given the fact that the US Constitution gives the voting procedures up to each of the State legislatures for each state.

  • The mess in NYC had nothing to do with RCV and everything to do with the incompetence and rules of the NYC Board of Elections.

    • The NYC mayor race wasn’t a mess

  • States have almost total control over voting rules constrained only by their own constitution. I don’t know if the Alaska constitution allows changes to voting rules by initiative

  • “………The Alaska litigants are also concerned that any candidate can now put whatever party affiliation they want next to their name. A Democrat or Socialist could say he is a Republican, for instance, and the ballot would have to show that. With no party primaries, the political parties lost control over who gets to represent their political organization…….”
    This is an expansion of the “I’m a conservative!” lie that people have been using for decades. Thanks to Bob Bird and Scott Kohlhaas fir bringing this fight forward. These voting schemes are all shams by tyrants.

  • It’s a crime that the state now needs to defend this corrupt voting schema. Why aren’t we doing a forensic audit of the November election to first see if it even passed?

  • let’s hope the courts find the process unconstitutional and throw the whole thing out and we get back to free and fair elections again….

  • I was appalled when this initiative passed due to the difficulty in auditing results. I’m grateful to see two organizations with the courage to fight it in court. Thank you! I will be very disappointed if it’s used to foist Lisa Murkowski on us even one more term.

  • Seems to me the courts ruled on the constitutionality of BM2 prior to its being put on the ballot. That being said, and I believe understood by the Republicans, led to the search for other strategies to win under BM2. This lawsuit will, unfortunately, fail. BM2 smells like what it is but it does present the same challenges to everyone except those printing, harvesting, and counting ballots, and those protected by the media. This corruption – including “dark” money – and the impossibility of an honest audit of results will show in the next election, at which point a lawsuit may have a chance of prevailing. So a ballot initiative under new rules disclosing dark money will have the best chance of success for the 2022 election. BM2 is not just odorous – it gives the left a huge opportunity to steal another election.

  • Unfortunately Gregory Miller is a leftist who ruled against Dunleavy’s union polices so unfortunately this system will stand until we reverse it.

  • The people who voted yes are ignorant about the mess this will create. The State should not defend anything since the State Legislature is not the one tjat passed this garbage. Voters need to educate themselves on Ballot Initiatives and not listen to pretty spunding commercials.

    • Agreed! What is sad to me is the fact that many voters make their decisions based on information from commercials. Many voters put little to no effort in to educating themselves before voting.

      I would like to see no money from outside Alaska be contributed to any campaign.

  • Good, I hope he wins. I watched the #2 change from losing badly to barely winning as they counted votes. I still believe the 2020 AK results should be audited down to the ballot measure level

    • Just like the votes in Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, as well as the State House races of Calvin Schrage and Liz Snyder. Oh, and just like Mark Begich’s Senate run in 2008. See a pattern?

  • Whoa’ RCV is good. This is just a lousy mishmash of an implementation.

  • Annnnnd, our SC justices are chosen only by a liberal cabal of ABA attorneys!

    So many loads of crap everywhere in this state.

  • Ranked-Choice requires voters to list their preferences ……. ie… a “forced vote” for candidates that they do not want. Forcing a vote is unconstitutional on it face.
    .
    If voters only choose one candidate, not four, then they have freely exercised their right to vote for the candidate of their choice.
    .
    This is a law that should be kicked-out on it *as by the high court. Anything less is pure voter coercion.

  • Is the court of first jurisdiction the federal court of appeals? I believe so many of the hamstringing issues should go there first after Mason’s Manual requests for urgent inquiry produce no fruitful results and because of failure of media to report the “federal” (meaning foreign corporatist) expressed locally interagency “partnerships” harmful decisions fail the needs of Alaskans invested currently, but not for long, in the “two-percent in private title” in Alaska. There’s a lot to walk back and recoup. Lawyers in the legislature know this stuff. They’re defending the wolves not YOUR rights if any. Keep paying them.

  • It Alaska has common sense this travesty would be killed in court. But we have no common sense, so it’s here to stay.

  • If the state Republican party thinks a new initiative is the answer to overturn, What are they waiting for? They have had months to get started and have done nothing.

    Governor and LT Governor should be leading but silence from those two. Show a little leadership you two if you ever plan on running again.

  • RCV (at least everywhere else its used) does not “force” anyone to rank any specific number of candidates. It “allows’ them to rank as many as the voting equipment can handle, The advantage of ranking more than one is that if your first choice is eliminated you still get to have a say in who is finally elected. The Alaska system is not the typical implementation of RCV. Its a mess but don’t blame RCV for that.

  • There is no intent for free and informed choice of senators and president candidates in RCV. The intent is to facilitate manipulating voters and vote tallies to minimize the need for and volume of fraud to “correct” results to achieve the desired outcome. We are far passed a functional republic form of government. R and D identifiers are meaningless, the loyalty of senators and president to the lobbyists and special interests is what matters.
    The impoverishing of real wealth, and structural loss of individual freedom and power is necessary to consolidate wealth and power of the elite class. The small business class was eviscerated by the covid “crisis” as small business ownership is an impediment to total control of a nation.
    Mail in only voting works well in states like Washington and Oregon where there is complete confidence the state agencies are in lockstep control and the mass of voters are reliable not to ask, or be able to demand accountability.
    We will get there too, RCV is a stepping stone, a method to achieve nationwide dominance.
    The CCP model is admired, wherein approximately 40 million party members control a nation of 1.3 billion.
    Totalitarian leaders have no party, rigid dogma, ethics or foundational beliefs other than control of wealth and power by any and all means. Its the underling managerial class, military officers and the masses who are the “true” communists, socialists, nazi, woke, whatever. As they crawl over each other for a slightly elevated position in the social hell created.
    The fact the Alaska GOP is not opposing RCV is their affirmation that its on board with consolidation of power. Decades of Don Young cronyism is not relevant to an ethical statewide political party structure.

    • I lived in Washington for a few years … Mail in voting has totally destroyed any semblance of election integrity. Look at the 2004 governor’s race in WA, where the Democrat candidate “found” 100 ballots in a closet (not a joke) which put her into the lead. Unfortunately because of BM2 and Dominion, Alaska has “leapfrogged” WA in terms of rigging and corruption

  • Well, is clear that you don’t like RCV and do like conspiracy theory so I’m not going to bother trying to change your mind. However RCV is actually the exact opposite of what you posit. In fact it takes power away from politicians and returns it to individuals, especially under represented minorities of all sorts: ethnic, political, religious. The proportional form which elects legislative bodies from multi-member districts is designed to ensure that the makeup of that body is reflective of the diversity of the district rather than being dominated my one of two major flavors which may not even represent a majority of the population..

    • So by your statement you point our that RCV takes away the power of the vote to give it to ‘under represented minorities of all sorts: ethnic, political, religious.’ That sounds soooo democratic. Why bother with elections at all? Just let the computer algorithm decide the oppressed of the day and put them in charge. By the way, how about all my Asian kids who are at the bottom of the oppressed pecking order? They just work for what they think they deserve.

  • No politician elected under such a system has legitimate authority. If you believe in that sort of thing in the first place.

    What you will have is the narrative that Alaska has turned blue permanently because of demographics and other nonsense. The model was California, and the control freaks are slobbering over the spoils as they spread their system of slavery across the former USA.

    • Chinacrats have already controlled the Alaska legislature for decades, so the governorship and the senate seats are only a small jump away

  • Now I understand. You want the power of the vote to go to the elite rather than all individuals. Sorry I bothered to engage.

  • Ranked choice voting was designed specifically for the purpose of facilitating voting fraud , by leftists like Scott Kendall (not a mistake) and, as John pointed out, is unconstitutional on its face. – M.John

  • Every state that used Dominion machines that means Alaska should be going through a Forensic audit like the one in Arizona. I don’t think that BM2 passed. I think the vote was manipulated.

  • Fair elections will be a thing of the past until Dominion Voting machines are banned & a full audit of Anchorage election results is performed!

  • To address to all of you right wingers, this won’t change anything. The measure was passed by a majority of voters, It’s a single issue measure, that being election reform, and the state supreme court ruled as such.

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