By MURRAY WALSH
‘Yes on 2’ made a presentation at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce in a Zoom meeting, which I attended.
I have said in an earlier column that in 40 years of watching initiatives rise in Alaska, every one of them appears to be based on hate or greed. I opined that Ballot Measure 1, the changes to the oil tax rules, was based on both. I believe Ballot Measure 2 is based primarily on greed for political power.
The main presenter at Thursday’s meeting was Shea Siegert. His title was field coordinator for the Yes campaign and he is based in Anchorage.
He started out be defining the “problem” and it included the fact that Alaska Republicans have a closed primary.
He thinks this is bad, but he is too young to have experienced the events that required that closure.
I remember them well and the short version is that Democrats, secure in the belief that they had a proper candidate of their own, sent about half their number to go vote in the Republican Primary. (Remember this later.)
This assured that the Republicans were stuck with a widely disparaged candidate in the general election and so it was that Bill Sheffield got elected in 1982. Ballot Measure 2 would put an end to that closure.
Prop 2 would still have a primary election, but not divided by party. There would be only one ballot with every contender who meets some kind of threshold, petition signatures maybe, listed thereon.
This prevents the party, any party, from sorting out for themselves who they want their champions to be. It also means that candidates from third, fourth, or fifth parties are also listed on the primary ballot.
Only the top four go on to the general election, regardless of party. What this means, at least in Alaska, is that the fringe parties are stopped cold at the primary, no further participation in politics that season. No appearance for the Green Party on the general election ballot or in TV debates and candidate forums.
Fringe parties know they will not win in the general elections but they want to play anyway so that their views become more widely known in the hope that their numbers will expand over time. It is a virtual certainty that if all primary contenders are listed on a single ballot, the top four would be Democrats and Republicans, most likely two of each.
Another part of the problem Siegart sees claims is that that non-R/D parties like Libertarians and others, are somehow disenfranchised by the current system. This came up several ways, but this claim is just not true. Siegart tried to make it sound like third parties had to find a place in either the R or D primary in order to participate.
The fact is that we have, in the 2020 election season, two people who want to be on the Democrat spot on the ballot and yet also want to be deemed Independent.
The current system does not require this. You can create a party, pick your candidate by a primary system of your own design, and that person will appear on the general election ballot, with the appropriate letter whether it be L for Libertarian, G for Green or S for Stag.
Let’s get on to the General Election. Under Ballot Measure 2, the top four from the primary now appear on the ballot and you are supposed to vote for all four of them in rank order showing the one you like the most, next most, next most and last most. If Candidate A gets 50%+1 votes, he or she wins and that’s that.
But if nobody gets over 50%, then the person who got the least number of votes is thrown out but votes he or she did get are distributed among the other three by some kind of formula. Siegart did not attempt to explain how that is done and I don’t want to bother trying to figure it out.
What I do want to say in this regard is that if you were bugged by the hanging chads in 2000 and if you worry in general over the processing of votes, then remember that all the quarreling over what has gone before was just about counting. Under Ballot Measure 2, the quarreling with be over mathematics.
One of the issues several attendees focused on was what happens with your ballot if you only vote for the guy you like best and don’t vote rank choices for any of the others.
Here is the answer: If your guy wins, boola boola, game over and congratulations. But if your fave does not win, your ballot means nothing further because you didn’t specify rank choices for anybody else. The ballots of people who did place all four votes will continue to operate according to the voodoo math until a result is achieved.
The sheer complexity of Ballot Measure 2 should be enough to generate a screaming no! vote, but there is more to say about it. There is method in this madness.
Remember what I said about the Democrat machine at work in 1982? This is as stark an example I can post to show the difference between the major parties. The Democrats have well entrenched party leaders, many union bosses, who can cook up various schemes and they have plenty of sergeants and corporals to execute the plan.
Alaska Republican leadership is much more ephemeral, rising at need and tending to other matters during the downtime.
What this difference means, for Ballot Measure 2, is that the more organized party can instruct its members to vote according to a scheme. One example of such a scheme could be: “Look, we got two Dems on the ballot but we, your party bosses, think that Bozo would be way better than Dingbat so everybody pass the word, but don’t say anything to the press about it.”
I will look for other examples of how this could work and report any found but for now, I hope the foregoing is enough to get you to vote no on this thing. It stinks.
Murray Walsh is part of the extended MRAK writing staff in Juneau.