Alaskans for Better Elections turns in over 41,000 signatures for certification to the Division of Elections
Edited By MARY KAUFFMAN
January 11, 2020
The Alaskans for Better Elections ballot committee started a statewide collection of signatures after the Superior Court ruling October 23, 2019 certifiying the Alaskans for Better Elections Initiative, clearing the way for signature gathering to begin. The court ruling overturned the Alaksa Division of Elections' initial denial of their application - made on the advice of Attorney General Kevin Clarkson - and allowed the initiative to move forward to appear on the ballot next year.
Wednesday, January 8, 2020, the Alaskans for Better Elections announced they turned in over 41,000 signatures exceeding the 28,368 signatures needed to get onto the ballot.
This submission marks the first step to being certified and placed on the ballot in 2020. Alaskans for Better Elections is the first ballot initiative group to have turned in the required signatures this year, and will now await certification by the Alaska Division of Elections. The group was told Wednesday by state election officials they will receive word of certification no later than ?60 days from today.
"?Literally, tens of thousands of Alaskans said 'we are ready for positive reforms to our elections'," said Chair of the initiative and former independent State Representative for District 22 in West Anchorage, Jason Grenn. "?It’s incredibly exciting that so many Alaskans see the benefits of this initiative and have ?signed their name in support.?"
Alaskans for Better Elections said the 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, regardless of political party, and ensure majority winner elections. The measure 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.
"We are excited to see such a comprehensive and quick gathering of support and signatures from every district in Alaska for this needed policy change. This is yet another step towards Alaska voters taking the power back through their voice and their vote”, said Anchorage resident and campaign manager of the group supporting the initiative," said Shea Siegert.
"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 came after the nonpartisan group Alaskans for Better Elections (“ABE”) challenged the Attorney General’s opinion in 2019 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.”
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