OPENING OUR PRIMARIES TO ALL ALASKA VOTERS.
What are "open" versus "closed" primaries?
An open primary means that a voter can vote in any primary election, regardless of his or her party affiliation. A closed primary means that a voter can only vote in the primary election affiliated with their party registration.
What is the makeup of Alaska's electorate?
Alaska isn’t a partisan state. An overwhelming 62% of voters are registered non-partisan or undeclared, about 24% Republican, and 13% Democrats. Reforming our primaries gives independent voters the choices they deserve.
Didn't Alaska have an open primary system that was unconstitutional?
Alaska used to have a system of blanket primaries, which was quite popular and allowed maximum voter choice. It was a central feature of Alaska politics for over 50 years, and was upheld by the Alaska Supreme Court. In 2000, the California Democratic Party sued to overturn voters’ decision to enact a primary system similar to Alaska’s. The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that blanket primaries were unconstitutional. That’s right; a popular and well-functioning primary system had to be scrapped because party insiders in California didn’t like it.
What primary system does Alaska use?
In Alaska, the parties decide who can vote in their primaries, even though it’s state funding that’s paying for them. Under this system, moderate and non-partisan voters are forced to pick one ballot or the other; a voter cannot support their preferred Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, while also supporting an Independent or Democratic candidate for governor. With almost three-fifths of the Alaskan electorate not identifying with either party, this system creates an ultimatum for voters and contributes to low turnout in both primary elections.
What's the solution?
Our Solution: A Single Primary Ballot
Instead of public funds subsidizing the political parties, an open, nonpartisan primary would allow all voters, regardless of party, to use a single ballot that lists every candidate for office. This would increase voter choice and engagement, and boost turnout in both the primary election and the general election. Nonpartisan research groups have found that open primaries have higher turnout rates than closed primaries, and that when a voter has an opportunity to vote for a candidate in the primary, they are much more likely to show up to support them in the general election.
Frequently Asked Questions