Press Releases

Alaskans for Better Elections Celebrates 55 years of the VRA
Press Releases

On Anniversary Of Voting Rights Act, Advocates Continue To Work To Expand Participation In Alaska’s Elections

Ballot Measure 2 Seeks To Ensure Better Representation for Underrepresented Alaska Native and Minority Communities

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA – Today is the 55th anniversary of the National Voting Rights Act, one of the most significant and successful pieces of civil rights legislation in the nation’s history.

As the Yes on 2 For Better Elections campaign works to improve Alaska’s elections by giving Alaskans more choice, more voice, and more power through Ballot Measure 2, we want to recognize that Alaska Natives have been leaders in expanding access to voting for decades. The right to vote is the most fundamental right we have as citizens, which is why a better future for Alaska starts with better elections.

“The Voting Rights Act was a monumental achievement that moved our nation closer to the ideals on which it was founded. Ballot Measure 2 helps uphold the intent of the Voting Rights Act by expanding access to voting and improving participation in our democracy for all Alaskans, especially for Alaska Natives and minority communities who have historically been underrepresented in our elections,” said Stacey Lucason, deputy campaign manager for Yes on 2 for Better Elections. 

From winning the fundamental right to have their voices count at the ballot box to ensuring that tribal communities across the state could vote in their traditional language, Alaska’s Native leaders from Elizabeth Peratrovich and the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood to Anna Nick, Billy McCann, Arthur Nelson, David O. David, Mike Toyukak, and Fred Augustine to Natalie Landreth, Rosita Worl, Cindy Allred, Kendra Kloster, Barbara Blake, and Elizabeth Medicine Crow – and so many more – inspire the work we do every day to advance Ballot Measure 2.

“We want to thank these Alaskans and the hundreds of others who have championed expanding participation in Alaska’s elections,” Shea Siegert, campaign manager for Yes on 2 for Better Elections.  

Press Releases

Vote Yes on 2 Launch Ads Highlighting Benefits of Electoral Reforms

ANCHORAGE – The Yes On 2 For Better Elections campaign is launching a series of online digital ads highlighting the benefits of updating the state’s electoral process to ensure voters have a greater role in deciding Alaska’s future. 

The ads include 15-second videos (video one, video two) on social media, Google and other online sites, and a longer video on the Alaskans For Better Elections website introducing voters to the commonsense electoral reforms that will appear on the November 3rd general election ballot. Ballot Measure 2 combines three separate election reforms to ensure voters have more voice, choice and power in Alaska’s elections, including: 

  • Require More Transparent Campaign Finance Disclosures – Prohibits “Dark Money” by requiring disclosure of the true source of contributions to a candidate by an Independent Expenditure group. Donors and recipients would be required to disclose to the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) any contribution greater than $2,000 within 24 hours. Any group getting more than 50 percent of its funding from Outside must declare that on all campaign communications.
  • Create a Single Primary Ballot – All candidates, regardless of party affiliation, would appear on a single primary ballot with the top four vote-getters advancing to the general election. The change would permanently restore the right of all Alaskans, including the more than 60% who choose not to join a major party, to fully participate in the primaries. The adjustment would reduce state spending on partisan elections, simplify the election process, and give every voter more choice at the ballot box. 
  • Implement Ranked-Choice Voting in General Elections – Ranked-choice voting allows voters to rank candidates in order of their preference. This simple change allows voters to support the candidate that best represents their interests without worrying about splitting the vote and helping elect a candidate they like the least. 

Alaskans deserve elected officials who are responsive to their needs and can work together to build a better future for Alaska. Ballot Measure 2 provides every Alaskan with an opportunity to be heard, regardless of their party affiliation. It protects the integrity and fairness of our elections by shining a light on the use of dark money by special interests and ensures voters have more choices when they enter into the voting booth. 

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Alaskans for Better Elections is a ballot committee dedicated to returning the power of elections to Alaskan voters and to make our elections more open, transparent, and fair.

This communication was paid for by Yes on 2 for Better Elections, 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.

Yes on 2
Yes on 2 for Better Elections, Yes on 2 in November
Press Releases

Alaska Supreme Court Rules Better Elections Initiative is Constitutional

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.

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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.

Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE: Alaskans for Better Elections Announces Campaign Team

ANCHORAGE (May 11, 2020) – The Alaskans for Better Elections committee is excited to announce their fully Alaskan campaign team. Stacey Lucason, Matthew Farina, and Jackson Blackwell have joined the team dedicated to strengthening the voice, choice, and integrity in our elections system. 

Stacey Lucason, a lifelong Alaskan, will serve as Deputy Campaign Manager for the campaign. Stacey has extensive experience working in Alaskan communities and with the University of Alaska, where she currently teaches a course on Alaska Native studies at UAA. “We never should have allowed elections to become about the lesser of two evils, and I’m proud to be working with this initiative to correct that and move our elections away from dark money and outside influence and back into the hands of Alaskans.”

Matthew Farina, veteran and lifelong Alaskan, will act as Data Director. Matt also works as a Project Engineer and earned a Master of Public Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Alaska Anchorage. “I’m glad I can use my education and experience to help make elections better for all Alaskans.” 

Jackson Blackwell, another lifelong Alaskan, will serve as Operations Director. Jackson, a 2020 Truman Scholar,  previously worked for Senator Lisa Murkowski’s 2016 campaign, the Stand for Alaska ballot measure, and in different capacities both in Washington, D.C., and here in Alaska. “As a young Alaskan, I’m excited to be supporting this measure and helping move Alaska towards a future of fair and transparent elections.” 

“As advocates for fair and transparent elections, it’s important to have an experienced and dedicated team of Alaskans moving forward,” Campaign Manager Shea Siegert said. “Building better elections and a better Alaska starts with a great team, and I’m proud of our team and excited for the work to come.”

The Better Elections Initiative would put an end to secret “dark money”—much of which comes from outside Alaska—that anonymous, big-money spenders use to influence our elections. It would also open Alaska’s primary elections to all Alaskans again regardless of political party, and ensure majority winner elections. The measure also gives voters the option to rank candidates in general elections, or, if they choose, voters can vote for just one candidate as they do now.

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Press Releases

Alaskans for Better Elections Makes Case to Supreme Court

ANCHORAGE (February 19, 2020) – Advocates of more fair and transparent elections in Alaska urged the Alaska Supreme Court to uphold a lower court ruling which found the initiative to be constitutional, and allowed it to move forward to the 2020 ballot. The initiative, sponsored by Alaskans for Better Elections, is aimed at giving more power, more choice, and more voice to Alaska voters through stricter campaign finance rules, ranked-choice voting, and open primaries. A Superior Court judge ruled in October that the state had incorrectly stopped the initiative, but the Attorney General appealed that decision to the state’s highest court.Read more

Press Releases

Court Approves Better Elections Initiative Petition

ANCHORAGE, AK (October 28,  2019) — The Superior Court today certified the Alaskans for Better Elections Initiative, clearing the way for signature gathering to begin. The ruling overturns the Division of Elections’ initial denial of their application—made on the advice of Attorney General Kevin Clarkson—and allows the initiative to move forward to appear on the ballot next year.

“With the court allowing this initiative to move forward, the path is clear for Alaskans to usher in cleaner, fairer, and more open elections,” said Jason Grenn, a Co-Chair of the ballot group and former independent State Representative for District 22 in West Anchorage. “Alaskans will now have the opportunity to choose real structural reform to improve our elections.”

The court’s decision comes after the nonpartisan group Alaskans for Better Elections (“ABE”) challenged the Attorney General’s opinion that the initiative violates the Alaska Constitution’s “single-subject” rule. ABE’s attorneys argued that the elements of the initiative clearly concerned the single subject of election reform—an argument with which Superior Court Judge Yvonne Lamoureux agreed, concluding, “The sole legal question is whether the proposed initiative embraces one general subject. The answer is yes.”  Judge Lamoureux agreed with ABE that the initiative clearly complies with 50 years of Alaska Supreme Court precedent in which the single subject-rule has been applied.

The initiative would reform Alaskan elections by putting an end to secret “dark money”—most of which comes from outside Alaska—that big-money spenders use to anonymously influence Alaska’s elections. It would open Alaska’s primary elections to all Alaskans, regardless of political party affiliation. Further, it would also give voters the option to rank candidates in general elections, or, if they choose, voters can vote for just one candidate as they do now.

“We are all aware of the adverse effects Outside money and polarizing partisanship have had on our elections,” said Co-Chair of the initiative, Bruce Botelho, a Democrat, former Attorney General of the State of Alaska and former Mayor of Juneau. “Alaskans are ready for meaningful change, and the Superior Court today gave them the opportunity to vote for it.”

In the wake of the Court’s decision, volunteers and staffers from the ballot committee will begin traveling the state to collect signatures and discuss the initiative with Alaskans. Alaskans who wish to join in support can contact the ballot committee at www.alaskansforbetterelections.com/get-involved.

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This communication was Paid for By Alaskans for Better Elections, PO Box 210295, Anchorage, AK 99521. Jason Grenn, Chair, approved this message. The Top 3 contributors are Represent.Us, Florence, MA; Voters’ Right to Know, Sausalito, CA; and Fair Vote Action Fund, Takoma Park, MD.

Press Releases

Bipartisan reform group aims to bring transparency and civility to Alaska

ANCHORAGE (July 3, 2019) — Today, a bipartisan group of community leaders, Alaskans for Better Elections (ABE), has submitted a ballot measure application to put more power of Alaska’s elections in the hands of Alaskan voters. The ballot initiative would increase transparency, participation, access, and choice in Alaska’s elections.

If approved by voters in November 2020, the initiative would put an end to secret “dark money”, much of it coming from outside Alaska, that anonymous, big-money spenders use to influence our elections. It would also open Alaska’s primary elections to all Alaskans, regardless of political party, and would give voters more choice and more voice by allowing them to rank candidates on the ballot (1, 2, and 3).

“Our transparency laws are long overdue for a fix,” said Chair of the ABE ballot committee, Jason Grenn, former independent State Representative for District 22 in West Anchorage. “This will shine a light on the dark money that influences campaigns, and protect our right to know who is trying to influence our votes and our views.”

At a time when more money than ever is pouring into Alaska elections, Alaska’s election watchdogs, the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC), are overworked and under-resourced. APOC, the public, and the media struggle to keep up with the flood of money that now courses through our election system.

The proposed initiative would stop the influx of dark money, political spending by organizations that do not disclose their donors, requiring additional reporting for groups that can receive and spend unlimited amounts of money on elections. These groups would be required to publicly report large donations in real-time, and disclose the true sources behind all such donations.

“Why should taxpayers pay to subsidize the activities of political parties,” said co-Chair of the initiative, Bonnie Jack, an Anchorage Republican. “This would save the state money and we believe the people deserve the opportunity to vote their conscience and not be restricted to a specific party vote.”

The initiative would also open Alaska’s primaries to all voters. Under the current system, political parties get to choose who can vote in their primary elections. Voters, especially independent voters, are forced to pick one ballot or the other meaning that only a small group of primary voters end up choosing the candidates that appear on the general election ballot. The initiative would give every voter access to a single primary ballot that lists all candidates, boosting voter turnout and reducing partisanship in the process.

Finally, the initiative would allow voters to have more impact with their ballot, without having to worry about picking between the “lesser of two evils,” by adjusting election ballots to allowing voters the option of ranking their first, second, and third choice candidates. This adjustment, called “ranked-choice voting,” would ensure that every winning candidate has received a majority of votes cast. When votes are counted, if no candidate receives a majority of all the first-choice votes, then the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. If a voter’s first choice is eliminated, their vote transfers to their next choice. This process repeats until one candidate has received a majority of votes, and is declared the winner.

Co-chair of the initiative, Bruce Botelho, Democrat, former Attorney General of the State of Alaska, and former Mayor of Juneau, said. “We believe the people deserve the opportunity to vote their conscience without having to worry about wasting their vote. This is a common-sense reform that offers more choice and tells candidates to fight for my vote instead of just fighting against each other.”

If approved, the ballot measure would make sure that special and establishment interests can no longer speak louder than Alaska’s voters. Alaskans will be able to vote on this measure to restore the power to the voters in 2020.

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Alaskans for Better Elections is a ballot committee that’s working to put the power of Alaskan elections in the hands of Alaskan voters to make our elections more open, transparent, and fair.

This communication was Paid for By Alaskans for Better Elections, PO Box 210295, Anchorage, AK 99521. Jason Grenn, Chair, approved this message. The top contributor is Paula DeLaiarro, Anchorage, AK.