Protect Your Voice, Protect Ranked Choice Voting
We just closed out the first session of the 33rd legislative session a few weeks ago, and the last-minute fervor of demands and compromises for our budget and the sustainability of our state almost made it possible for some awful bills to work their way through the legislative process. One bill in particular that quite literally undermines the votes of Alaskans is House Bill 4.
A little background:
In 2022 the majority of Alaskans voted to adopt Open Primaries and Ranked Choice Voting as our state’s new voting system for state and federal elections.
Open Primaries allow everyone to participate in one primary election, regardless of party affiliation.
Ranked Choice Voting makes it possible for people to have more of a voice in the outcome of our elections.
Instead of picking one candidate from each party during separate primary elections to go head-to-head in the general election, we now choose the top four candidates (regardless of party) in an open primary. Then you can rank them in order of favorite to least favorite or tolerable to least tolerable, as the case may be during the general election. With this new system, we see a change in how candidates approach their constituents. Instead of assuming party favoritism, candidates must speak to the issues that matter to all Alaskans and reach across party lines for votes. We saw the outcome of our first Ranked Choice Voting election, which brought in more Independents and a broader array of candidates from backgrounds to ages and experience. Voters voted for who would represent them, not just the party affiliation. This new system opened doors for new candidates and firmly connected voters to the election process. It’s great, and it works.
But some leaders prefer the party lines and the party politics and have started trying to push through policy that will return our voting process to one mired in political pandering. House Bill 4 has already seen a considerable amount of public opposition, in part because it’s undermining Alaskan voices and in part, because our state has so many bigger issues to deal with.
Undermining our new voting system is a huge distraction. Our climate, our economy, voting accessibility, and the fundamental rights of our families should be the priority for leaders. Open Primaries and Ranked Choice Voting can lead to diverse voices that understand those priorities and will work with our communities.
So as our legislators move into their local offices to spend time with their communities, remember they work for you. Call them, ask for their time, and demand they focus on the things that matter to you, your family, coworkers, and community. Under the Ranked Choice Voting system, they have more incentive than ever to work with you and listen. Under our new voting system, your voice has more power. Protect it.
Kyla Kosednar(she/her) is the Advocacy Director at The Alaska Center.
She is a lifelong Alaskan dedicated to protecting voting rights for all Alaskans.