Spring Into Action: Protecting Democracy in Alaska’s Elections

Dear Friend,

It’s spring (or at least false spring) here in Alaska, and that means local and state-wide elections are right around the corner. Whether you’re refreshing your browser, waiting for national primary results, or attending cozy coffee shop chats put on by your favorite mayor or state leg candidate, voting is on the mind of many of us – including our state legislators.  

We’re one month through the session, and our Representatives have been busy bees when it comes to voting legislation – HB 4 (the repeal of Ranked Choice Voting (RCV)) had a hearing on day one of the session, and HB 129 (purging voter rolls), has already moved out of the House and into The Senate State Affairs Committee. Purging might sound like something you’d do to your closet during spring cleaning, but it’s anything but tidy when it comes to voting rights. “Purging” or “cleaning up” the voting rolls involves deleting voters from the rolls when they have moved, passed away, or become ineligible to vote. Maintaining the accuracy of the roles is important, but when done irresponsibly – like removing large swaths of voters, for instance –  it can be used as a tool for voter suppression and disenfranchisement. Imagine voters discovering they’re no longer listed as eligible voters when they arrive at the polling place on Election Day. This particular bill seems benign on its face – but a lot can change over the course of a session. Purging voting rolls paired with the repeal of Automatic Voter Registration, for instance, would be a recipe for disaster for voters. That’s why we are watching this bill closely.  

If you’ve ever been torn between two candidates and wished you could vote for both, then RCV is your political cup of tea. But the real tea is the work happening to repeal it. With RCV, voters can rank their candidates in order of preference, ensuring their voice is still heard even if their top pick doesn’t win. RCV has been shown to elect more BIPOC, women, and moderate candidates (that’s why we support it) and, therefore, has struck the ire of those with polarizing political ideologies. As we mentioned, HB 4 (the current vehicle for RCV repeal) has already had a hearing this session and has passed out of committee despite the overwhelming public testimony in opposition last year. This Senate has been protecting our right to vote like a mama bear protecting her cubs, so we don’t anticipate an RCV repeal passing this session. But if you have been watching the news, you may know that it’s possible a repeal could be on the ballot this November. Whether through legislation or ballot measure, a repeal of RCV would be bad for voters and bad for Alaska. Many of you showed up and testified last session, we will likely need that support again soon. We will keep you posted. 

Democracy is not a spectator sport – it’s an interactive experience where every voice matters. Whether embracing new voting systems like RCV, ensuring ballot integrity through curing, or fighting for equal access to the polls, we must remember that democracy is a journey, not a destination. Democracy isn’t just about casting a vote – it’s about shaping the future. So keep paying attention and taking action! And, of course, please vote like your rights depend on it! 

With commitment to our shared future,

The Alaska Center

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