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.
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.