Alaska Supreme Court Rules Better Elections Initiative is Constitutional
Ballot Measure 2 will appear before voters in November
ANCHORAGE (Friday, June 12, 2020) – Ballot Measure 2 has been cleared to appear on the November ballot after the Alaska Supreme Court today ruled unanimously that the initiative meets all constitutional requirements. The initiative would give more voice, choice, and power to Alaska voters by prohibiting dark money, instituting ranked-choice voting, and opening primary elections to all voters.
“We are very pleased with the Supreme Court’s ruling today – it affirms that our initiative is consistent with the single-subject rule,” campaign counsel Scott Kendall said. “The initiative process is fundamental to upholding the people’s power in our democratic process, and today’s ruling is a victory for all Alaskans.”
In August of 2019, Attorney General Kevin Clarkson released an opinion that the election reform initiative was unconstitutional under the single-subject rule, contrary to decades of established precedent regarding initiatives. On his advice, the Division of Elections attempted to block the Better Elections committee from gathering signatures to put the issue before voters. But Superior Court Judge Yvonne Lamoureux ruled that the Attorney General’s analysis was incorrect. She required the state to issue signature booklets and continue the certification process as the state appealed to the Supreme Court.
In writing the Court’s unanimous opinion upholding Ballot Measure 2, Justice Daniel Winfree wrote:
“The State asks us to put our judicial thumb on the scale to limit the people’s constitutional check against legislative inaction…” But rejected that request and held that the Attorney General Clarkson’s arguments “run counter to the [constitutional] delegates’ intent that the initiative serve as the people’s check on the legislature… when the legislature fails to pass laws the people believe are needed, the people have the initiative power to create those laws.”
Looking to the substance of Ballot Measure 2, Justice Winfree also deemed it a proper use of the initiative power to seek its goals of “‘increasing transparency, participation, access, and choice’ in the electoral process.” And noted that the initiative also “aspires to ensure that wealth does not unduly influence state elections and that Alaskans ‘know in a timely manner the source quantity, timing, and nature of resources used to influence candidate elections in Alaska.’”
“With today’s ruling, voters will have the opportunity to reform the system so that Alaskans’ interests are always put first,” Campaign Manager Shea Siegert said. “Our team is working towards the November election and making our elections more open, transparent, and fair.”
Alaskans for Better Elections gathered and submitted over 41,000 signatures from registered Alaska voters to allow the measure to appear before voters. The Supreme Court’s decision today affirmed Judge Lamoureux’s original ruling.
Alaskans for Better Elections is a ballot committee that’s working to put the power of Alaskan elections in the hands of Alaskan voters, and make our elections more open, transparent, and fair.
This communication was paid for by Alaskans for Better Elections Yes on 2, PO Box 210295, Anchorage, Alaska 99521. Jason Grenn, Chair, approved this message. The Top 3 contributors are Unite America, Denver, CO; Action Now Initiative, Houston, TX; Represent.Us, Florence, MA.