In her letter published on Oct. 8, Lisa Wharton called Alaska’s new voting system disenfranchising. She wants candidates in the general election to be chosen by party members rather than all Alaskans in an open primary. What she fails to grasp is that her preferred method actually disenfranchises the majority of Alaskans.
A quick check of the state’s statistics on registered voters shows that a mere 24% are registered as Republicans, and just 13% as Democrats. Meanwhile, a full 57% of registered voters are not beholden to any party. My question for Ms. Wharton is, why should the 37% of voters who choose to align themselves with one of the two major parties have exclusive right to determine who the 57% of Alaskans who decline partisan loyalties get to vote for? Why should we be deprived of a say in the matter?
I registered as a nonpartisan voter in 1982. Because I am not a party member, my primary options used to be limited. Now, for the first time in 40 years, I am not partially disenfranchised in primary elections. All candidates, regardless of affiliation, now have to compete for the votes of all of Alaska’s voters in order to advance to the general election instead of pandering to partisan extremists in closed primaries, a process that only worsens the already crippling divisions in America.
In a state where independence is treasured, where a solid majority of residents decline to partake in the two-party duopoly, and in a time when majorities of Americans view both parties negatively, this should be seen as an enormous step in the right direction.
— David A. James
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