Tag: Alaska Supreme Court

Constitutionality of Ballot Measure 2

Yes on 2

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled definitively on the constitutionality of the open primaries model proposed in Ballot Measure 2. 

In Washington State Republican Party v. Washington State Grange, the highest court in the land found that an open primary system did not violate the political parties’ First Amendment right of association. Because the purpose of the primary is a public election to determine the front runners – and not to choose party nominees – the Supreme Court found no First Amendment violation of association.

Writing for the majority in the 7-2 decision, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas emphasized the right of the State and its voters to determine what electoral system they wanted to implement. Justice Thomas wrote that whether parties nominate their own candidates outside the state-run primary is simply irrelevant. He also rejected the argument that an open primary would confuse voters as to who the parties’ nominees were, noting that there was no evidence to support the claim and expressed doubt that an informed electorate could so easily be misled.

We too believe our fellow Alaskans are not so easily misled and possess the intelligence to choose the candidate they prefer, regardless of party affiliation. 

Ballot Measure 2 creates an open, nonpartisan primary where all candidates appear on a single ballot. Candidates can choose to list their political affiliation next on the ballot or identify as “undeclared” or “nonpartisan.” 

It’s clear that the Alaska Republican Party is out of step with Republican voters. They want closed primaries so that they – not the voters – can control who wins elections. Alaskans For Better Elections fundamentally believes voters, not party bosses, should choose their representatives and that the candidates with the best ideas – not necessarily the biggest bank accounts – should be able to compete on a level playing field. 

Ballot Measure 2 is a commonsense reform that provides every Alaskan with an opportunity to have their voice heard, ends the process of voting for the lesser of two evils by ensuring we have more and better choices in each election, and takes power away from special interests, giving it back to regular Alaskans, where it belongs.

In a state where more than 60 percent of voters choose not to join the Republican or Democratic parties, encouraging more independent-minded candidates to participate will result in leadership that works better for all Alaskans.

Further Reading:

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Yes on 2 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 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.

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.