Opinions

Better elections, the Alaska way

Last November, Alaskans from a wide array of beliefs and political ideologies voted to make some long-overdue and exciting changes to our elections. These changes will shine a light on dark money, so we know who’s trying to sway our elections; they will create an open primary with one ballot, so all Alaskans have a say in who represents us; and they will implement a uniquely Alaskan form of ranked-choice voting, ensuring that every winner is elected with a majority. All these changes will benefit Alaskans, regardless of where they land on the political spectrum.

As a lifelong Alaskan, I was honored to play a role on the committee that championed these changes. If this were an ordinary campaign committee, the day after the election victory, we would have cleaned out our desks and patted ourselves on the back for a job well done. But Alaskans for Better Elections (ABE) is not an ordinary campaign committee. Our group is made up of Alaskans from all walks of life, of all ages, from every region across the state, who are committed to listening to and working with every voter so that we will all understand these changes before we step into the voting booth next fall.

The ultimate goal? That every Alaskan feels confident with how to cast their ballot under our new ways of voting and can see the positive impacts of the new Alaska-style elections. We take seriously the responsibility to build trust with the public and properly showcase this new election style. Regardless of what you may have heard, the new election system was designed specifically with Alaska in mind, and these changes are unique, new and 100% Alaska-grown. The goal from the beginning has been to give all Alaskans more choice, more voice, and more power in our elections.

We are not satisfied to just sit back and hope that happens. Over the next year and a half, our team will proactively take the lead in educating fellow Alaskans about these changes and will be making ourselves available to listen to your concerns and answer questions, to help ensure that Alaska has a world-class election experience in 2022.

You will see us around the state at town hall events, local festivals, or even at your local brewhouse or coffee shop, offering assistance and imparting correct information, so you’ll know what to expect when you vote in 2022. We hope you can come by and talk to us, listen to what this new system means for you, and offer suggestions, because this is about giving all Alaskans a voice, not just in voting itself, but in how our elections are conducted.

Naturally, not every person will have the chance to attend a live event or join in online conversations, which is why we have a robust website (www.AlaskansForBetterElections.com), just brimming with information. It also has a contact button, so you can send us questions or suggestions, and a “get involved” tab, if you want to join us in our efforts to help educate our neighbors.

Of course, none of this would be possible without the help, leadership, and partnership of the Alaska Division of Elections. One thing I have discovered in this whole process is how fortunate we are as a state to have such devoted and skilled people managing our elections, and I have complete confidence that with the changes brought about by this new law, Alaska’s elections will go more smoothly than ever.

I am excited to see these uniquely Alaska-style elections at work and would like to thank Alaskans for caring enough about our state to vote for a brighter future. This new system was crafted without any agenda or planned outcome, other than to make Alaska’s elections as fair and truly representative as possible and give voters more power; a power that can build a brighter and more prosperous Alaska for all for years to come.

Jason Grenn is a fourth-generation Alaskan and former independent Alaska State Representative. He now serves as the Executive Director for Alaskans for Better Elections.

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