Opinions

Voting initiative would harm rural communities

Vote counting in Juneau

This election season, we are strongly urging our fellow Alaskans to vote no on Ballot Measure 2.

This initiative would get rid of our simple one-person, one-vote system and replace it with a 25-page mess written and funded by billionaires in the Lower 48.

Ballot Measure 2 did not come from folks in our communities; it did not come from within. In fact, more than 99% of its funding is coming from wealthy people in New York and California — people who have never been to Alaska. So far, they have spent more than $5 million to buy our support and trick us into voting for something no one has read or understands.

They want to experiment on us with a version of what is called “ranked-choice voting,” a version that has never been tried anywhere else in the United States. Alaskans should not risk our right to vote on a confusing experiment that has not worked anywhere else.

When the state of Maine adopted a similar scheme four years ago, they had to produce 19 pages of instructions on how to vote. How will this affect voter turnout among the elderly, the disabled and those with language difficulties? We need to increase turnout in rural Alaska, not make voting harder and more confusing.

We have read this 25-page initiative and we still do not fully understand it. Most of the people supporting this initiative also do not understand it. Many Alaskans may not even realize that under this initiative, third-place candidates could actually win and be elected. What sense does that make? The initiative seems like an attempt to confuse and misdirect rural voters. We are happy with the system of voting for the candidates we support and do not want to change.

Our current system for voting works, it is fair and it is easy to understand. Voters know who they are voting for and can be confident in the knowledge that their votes will be counted. Nothing good will come if we replace that with an experiment that is bureaucratic, complicated, and designed by Outside billionaires who do not understand life in Alaska.

If we change our voting system, that change should come from within our communities, not from folks in the Lower 48 meddling in our business and trying to tell us what to do. They should experiment on their own states before trying to change what is working just fine here in Alaska. We do not want to be the first in line to try this risky scheme.

Please join us and vote no on Ballot Measure 2.

Cynthia Erickson is the founder of My Grandma’s House, ‘Setsoo Yeh,’ a safe haven for youth in her community.

Dana Leask-Ruaro is a lifelong Alaskan, Alaska Native, and Native and rural activist.

Thomas Baker is vice-mayor of the city of Kotzebue.

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