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. No one in Alaska asked for this. In fact, more than 99 percent 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, founder of My Grandma’s House ‘Setsoo Yeh,’ a safe haven for youth in her community; Dana Leask-Ruaro, lifelong Alaskan, Alaska Native, and Native and Rural activist; Thomas Baker, vice-mayor of the city of Kotzebue
Thank-you, wildland firefighters!
As commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, it’s a privilege to work with the hundreds of men and women who put their skills to work – and their lives at risk – to protect fellow Alaskans from the ravages of wildfire.
As the alarming red specter of wildfire season gives way to the comforting yellow glow of fall, I want to thank everyone who worked so tirelessly to make this summer wildfire season a success, both here in Alaska and in the Lower 48.
This fall marks the end of a well-below-average fire season in Alaska. As of Oct. 6, there were 343 wildfires that burned about 181,253 acres, the lowest since 2008, and far below the more typical season of 500 fires burning 650,000 acres.
More than 1,000 personnel deployed to fight fires in Alaska this summer, including teams with the Division of Forestry (DOF), Alaska Fire Service and U.S. Forest Service, as well as Lower 48 resources. Early on, we welcomed about 250 firefighting personnel from Outside, including nine crews, 30 smokejumpers and others, helping to contain the Isom Creek fire along the Dalton Highway.
Just as Lower 48 crews came north to help us during our terrible fire season in 2019, more than 400 Alaska firefighting personnel, including 14 crews and support personnel, have gone south this summer to help fight unusually high levels of fire elsewhere in the country. Some have spent more than two months on duty in any of 11 Western states. Some remain deployed yet today.
Regardless of the size, number or location of fires, each acre burns hot and poses risks to human life and safety. While I’m grateful Alaska’s fire season saw no significant direct injury from fire, we were all shocked at the crash of a Division of Forestry aircraft near Aniak that saw four DOF personnel sustain serious injuries, yet survive thanks in part to quick response from community youth. I want to thank those quick-acting teenagers and the other first responders for the life-saving aid they provided when it was needed most.
Firefighters this summer also faced the more subtle, but potentially even more dangerous hazard of COVID-19 during training and travel, in camp and in the field. Exercising innovation, creativity and discipline, fire managers developed safety protocols and best practices — wearing masks, practicing social distancing, sanitizing helicopters and engines and testing incoming resources – that helped ensure all those who turned out for duty stayed healthy and returned home uninfected.
In recognition of the service of firefighters across the nation, President Donald Trump has declared Oct. 4-10, 2020 as Fire Prevention Week, and directed flags to fly at half-staff at federal offices in honor of those injured or killed by fire this year. On behalf of all Alaskans, I join with the President in conveying my deepest appreciation to all those who fight wildland fires, both here and Outside.
While Alaskans are fortunate to live in and near beautiful wild places, that proximity places our homes, our neighbors and our families at risk of natural hazards like wildland fire. Fortunately, the same pioneer spirit that empowers us to live in Alaska extends to meeting the challenges of fire. We must all work hard to remain aware of the hazards of fire, to integrate fire-wise principles and attitudes into our lives, and to appreciate the work of the firefighters who respond when things go wrong.
Corri A. Feige, Commissioner
Alaska Department of Natural Resources
New study exposes alarming ramifications to ranked-choice voting
Alaska Policy Forum has released a new report detailing the findings of an extensive study that exposes many flaws in ranked-choice voting (RCV), particularly how the method of determining a winner results in discarded ballots, how RCV elections do not result in a majority winner, and how it can completely change the outcome of an election.
The study analyzed data from 96 elections in which RCV necessitated additional rounds of tabulation, and the results were disturbing. In some races, nearly 18 percent of votes were not counted in the winner-determining round of tabulation. Known as ballot exhaustion, the discarding of ballots is inherent to the ranked-choice voting process.
“A voting system that frequently results in the discarding of legally submitted ballots has no place in Alaska or anywhere else in the United States. After researching candidates, going to the polls, and voting, no Alaskan should have to worry that their ballot won’t be counted in the final tally.” — Melodie Wilterdink, VP of Operations & Communications at Alaska Policy Forum
The study, completed in conjunction with Maine Policy Institute, also found that RCV frequently does not result in majority winners, as proponents claim. In fact, in nearly 40 percent of the elections analyzed, the “winner” received less than 50 percent of the total votes cast.
Perhaps most importantly, the study examined how often RCV would produce a different electoral outcome, and found that in 17 percent of the elections analyzed, RCV resulted in a different outcome than a traditional plurality election would have.
The full report is available at http://alaskapolicyforum.org/2020/10/failed-experiment-rcv/.
Alaska Policy Forum