The House Judiciary Committee voted to move House Bill 4 out of committee to its next committee of referral: Finance. The bill would repeal Ballot Measure 2 from 2020, a measure approved by voters to create a novel and untested voting scheme in Alaska that includes open primaries and ranked-choice voting general elections, a combination used in no other state.
Alaska has become a cheap way for liberal Outside interests to promulgate political changes since it is a very inexpensive media market. Alaskans for Better Elections, funded by some of the most effective liberal entities at work in politics today, was able to convince more than 50% of voters that the current system for electing people — one vote at a time — robbed them of choice. The ranked-choice proponents say voters should be allowed to rank their top choice, second choice, third choice in a system that requires machine counting, since the recalculation of the second and third choice votes is so time-consuming and prone to human error.
Rep. Ben Carpenter, a member of the committee, said that the measure was passed because of another element inserted by the Ballot Measure 2 proponents — the prohibition on “dark money.” Carpenter pointed out that the group Alaskans for Better Elections used the so-called dark money to scare people about the term “dark money,” because Alaskans are leery of Outsiders trying to influence elections. That scare tactic worked, he said, but now many Alaskans realize that they were duped into voting for Ballot Measure 2.
Rep. Sarah Vance of Homer, who chairs the committee, said in her sponsor statement for the bill: “The ballot measure that transformed Alaska’s election system in 2020 passed by a narrow margin of less than 1 percent. The campaign led Alaskans to believe the ballot measure would do away with ‘dark money’ only and that it would give them ‘more options’ in voting. Most Alaskan’s did not know that it would upend our way of voting that has always been one person equals one vote. Many voters have expressed buyer’s remorse since passage. In fact, recent polling shows that that majority of Alaskans strongly agree to repeal rank choice voting.”
A Dittman Research poll shows that 51% of voters in Alaska want to repeal Ballot Measure 2. 84% of Democrats want to keep ranked choice voting and 81% of Republicans want it repealed.
Besides Rep. Vance, co-sponsors of the bill include Reps. George Rauscher-Sutton, Kevin McCabe-Big Lake, and Frank Tomaszewski-Fairbanks, all Republicans.
The bill passed out of committee on a vote of 5-2, with the Democrats on the committee voting against passage. Democrats have been particular beneficiaries of Ballot Measure 2 and see it as a way to improve their chances in a state that is still conservative leaning.
Last May, the House State Affairs Committee, which was the first committee to hear the bill, passed the bill out of committee at the end of the legislative session. In that committee, it was also the Democrat, Rep. Andi Story of Juneau, who voted against moving the bill.
At the same time the repeal is working its way through the Legislature, a citizen group is working to repeal ranked-choice voting. Alaskans for Honest Elections turned in signatures on a petition to have the question put to voters during either the primary or, more likely, the general election later this year. Alaskans for Honest Elections has been hounded by the Outside-funded Alaskans for Better Elections, which is fighting to retain the new system that ushered in Democrat Rep. Mary Peltola in 2022’s election cycle, and also helped Sen. Lisa Murkowski by taking away the Republican primary election, which she would not have been able to win, according to polling.
If HB 4 passes both bodies — and it is unlikely to be heard in the Democrat-dominated Senate majority — voters would not face the question on the ballot and voting would return to the way it was done before 2022.