Help win IRV for Alaska!
- I'm writing to you as we lead up to the last weeks of a potentially
path-breaking effort for instant runoff voting in Alaska. With just over 2
weeks to go until the August 27th statewide vote on the measure, we're
seeking an all-out push to convince Alaska voters to vote for greater
I know that many of you are involved in important local campaigns -- but if
any of you can spend any time over the next couple of weeks, we will be
phone-banking to Alaska "super-voters" who will be deciding the fate of
instant runoff voting there.
We will be making calls from our office in Takoma Park -- a short walk from
the Takoma Metro station -- during the afternoons and evenings over the next
Please let me know if you can assist us with phone-banking at any point
before August 27th -- we need volunteer support to make Alaska the first
state in the nation to adopt IRV!
Please also see Steven Hill's message below about the Alaska effort -- Steve
was the manager of the successful campaign for IRV in San Francisco this
(I apologize in advance for any duplicate postings).
The Center for Voting and Democracy
From: Steven Hill, Center for Voting and Democracy
Re: URGENT - Ballot Measure 1 (Instant Runoff Voting) in Alaska needs your
Dear Friends of Democracy,
Many of you helped us win Proposition A/instant runoff voting in San
Francisco. You contributed money, volunteer time, some of you from
different parts of the country even did phone banking on the weekends with
your extra cell phone minutes. That was a historic win, and we garnered
national media attention from the New York Times, Washington Post, Time
magazine, The Nation, Associated Press, and dozens of newspapers.
Well -- we need your help again. The battleground for electoral reform RIGHT
NOW is in Alaska. Ballot Measure 1, the campaign for instant runoff voting
in Alaska, is steamrolling toward an August 27 date with destiny. On that
date Alaska voters will vote whether or not to implement instant runoff
voting for all federal offices (including President, U.S. Senate and House)
and most state offices. If we win, it will be HUGE national news,
particularly because of the inclusion of the presidential race. Your
support is urgently needed.
Allow me to explain the urgency of our need: the campaign is gaining
momentum, and we have garnered the endorsements of many of the major
organizations in the state. We have support all across the political
spectrum, including from liberals, moderates, progressives, and
conservatives. Ballot Measure 1 has been endorsed by the former Democratic
Attorney General of Alaska, former Republican candidates for governor and
lieutenant governor, the former director of Alaska PIRG, as well as the
Alaskan Independence Party, Green Party, Republican Party, Libertarian
Party, and Republican Moderate Party. We have had favorable media in recent
weeks in various daily newspapers and radio shows. (for more info about the
campaign, visit the campaign web site at www.AlaskansforVotersRights.com).
In other words: we have an EXCELLENT shot at winning!
And yet, even as we may be on the threshold of victory -- the first victory
for an entire state at the ballot box to implement voting system reform in
over 40 years -- we find our campaign in danger. Why?
Because our reform to improve democracy in Alaska has drawn the antagonism
of some very powerful special interests. The main opponents are political
insiders who know how to manipulate the current system. They like elections
where their candidate can win with a low percentage of the vote. And they
like elections like Anchorage's last municipal runoff election, where voter
turnout declined to a measly 7% and cost about $100,000 to run (a lot of
money in Alaska). This is a ridiculous waste of taxpayers' money.
As you know, instant runoff voting (IRV) allows voters to indicate their
first choice and their runoff choices by ranking their favorite candidates
on their ballot, 1, 2, 3. IRV completely eliminates the spoiler problem and
liberates voters to finally vote for their true first choice, significantly
broadening the political debate. Ballot Measure 1 in Alaska will allow
third parties to run vigorous campaigns and bring important ideas into
campaigns. This will have the effect of attracting disaffected and young
voters back to the polls. IRV is increasingly recognized as an ideal
companion to Clean Money/public financing reform that leads to an increase
in candidates AND ensures majority rule.
In short, instant runoff voting represents the future of voting -- because
it brings CHOICE back into politics.
Despite all the many benefits that Ballot Measure 1 will give Alaska,
various "status quo" insiders are opposed to it. The word is on the street
that these opponents are preparing to go to war against Ballot Measure 1.
They are preparing to pull out their big wallets and "go negative" to scare
and confuse voters. The insiders and their political consultants opposing
Ballot Measure 1 already have been using their usual bag of tricks and
trying to portray instant runoff voting and its "ranked ballots" as a
confusing and risky electoral method, despite their many decades of use in
the U.S. and around the world.
As we know, the truth does not matter to these people; they will say
whatever they need to prevail.
The Alaska campaign MUST raise money immediately to DEFEND Ballot Measure 1!
We are too close to victory to see it go down to defeat at the hands of the
anti-democracy forces and anti-reformers and their sneaky bag of tricks.
Here's what we need to do: after discussing the situation with supportive
political professionals, we need to raise $20,000 immediately to contact all
super-voters (those most likely to vote in this low turnout election) in
Alaska. To reach these voters in a timely fashion, we must raise enough
money to prepare a mailing that will be sent to voters according to their
party affiliation, with a special message from their party leaders.
That's where you come in. We need your financial contribution to this
effort. No amount is too small -- or too big. We are going out on a limb
here, and we are preparing to go into short-term debt to prepare a
professionally designed mail piece, because we are confident that you will
respond to our plea.
The fate of Ballot Measure 1 -- of this fresh innovation for democracy --
may rest in your hands. We here on the campaign staff and volunteers will
continue to work hard, but we have reached a point in the campaign where WE
CANNOT DO IT WITHOUT YOU. We need to draw on the support of Friends of
Democracy like yourself, to see Ballot Measure 1 through to an August 27
Please don't hesitate. Time is growing short, we are only three weeks from
Election Day. Write a check today to Alaskans for Voters Rights and mail it
Alaskans For Voters Rights
PO Box 93588
Anchorage, AK 99509-3588
If you'd like to make an online donation via PayPal of less than $500, the
For more information, check out the campaign web site at
www.AlaskansforVotersRights.com or call 907-569-4IRV (4478)
Besides donating money, there are two other ways you can help. First, I
suspect many of you know at least one person in Alaska. Please help make
sure they know the importance of Measure 1 by sending them an email telling
them about Measure 1 and urging them to visit
Second, if some of you have extra cell phone minutes and are willing to make
phone calls to Alaskans, please e-mail CVD staff person Dan
Johnson-Weinberger at djw@... and he will e-mail you a page of
Thanking you in advance for your great support, I am,
Center for Voting and Democracy
P.S. Below is an oped that soon will be published in Alaska's leading daily
newspaper, the Anchorage Daily News, that will provide you more insight into
the campaign for instant runoff voting in Alaska.
PLEASE FORWARD THIS TO YOUR OWN EMAIL LISTS!
Ballot Measure 1 Is Good for Alaska
By Jim Sykes and Ken Jacobus
Voters will have the opportunity to vote this August 27 for a major
improvement to our elections with Ballot Measure 1, Instant Runoff Voting.
Measure 1 will give voters more choices, guarantee the winner will be
elected by a popular majority, and has the potential for significant tax
savings. For cities like Anchorage and others, the potential cost savings is
hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.
Measure 1 addresses three problems with our current electoral method. For
one, expensive runoff elections are a headache for voters, candidates and
administrators. Anchorage's last runoff election had only a 7% voter turnout
and cost about $100,000. This is a ridiculous waste of taxpayers' money.
Second, elected offices currently have no majority requirement (meaning a
candidate doesn't need 50 percent of the vote to win). This makes it
possible for less popular candidates to win even when they aren't supported
by most Alaskans.
In fact, over the past decade, Alaska has seen several important elections
won by candidates with less than a majority of the popular vote. Democrats,
Republicans, and independents have been affected. For instance, Governor
Tony Knowles first won that office in 1994 with only 41 percent of the
popular vote. Did the majority of Alaskans voters actually prefer a
different nominee? We can only guess.
Since 1990 other candidates have been elected to various municipal and state
offices with as little as 28% of the vote. A four-way state legislative
race in 1994 elected a winner with only 45% of the vote. "Majority rule" is
one of the foundations of our political system, yet too often our current
elections fail that test.
Measure 1 fixes the problem by adopting instant runoff voting for most state
and all federal elections, and giving municipalities the option to use it.
It's like a regular runoff, but it doesn't require a second trip to the
polls. You vote for your favorite candidate, just as you do now -- but you
also gain the option to indicate your runoff choices. You do that by
ranking candidates on your ballot in your order of preference -- 1, 2, 3.
This way, if no candidate is the first choice of at least 50% of the voters,
a runoff count can be conducted without the need for a second election.
If enacted, Measure 1 will eliminate the problem where a candidate strongly
opposed by the majority can win. It assures majority rule. Also, in cities
like Anchorage and others, it will eliminate the wasteful expense of paying
for a second runoff election.
Moreover, Measure 1 will make more voters count. Voters will be able to
vote for candidates we truly prefer without "wasting" our vote or worrying
about "spoiler candidates." And by being allowed to rank multiple
candidates, voters gain greater influence and regain some of the greater
choice we had with the blanket primary.
Ballot Measure 1 has the support of a broad cross-section of Alaskans --
liberals, conservatives, moderates, and political parties from across the
political spectrum. Millions of voters in other places have used instant
runoff voting for decades. Utah Republicans use it to nominate congressional
candidates. San Francisco voters just passed a ballot measure to elect city
leaders with it. Louisiana uses it for military overseas ballots. The
American Political Science Association uses it because it's the fairest and
simplest way to assure a majority winner in a single election. Every state
League of Women Voters, from Washington to Vermont, which has thoroughly
studied instant runoff voting has endorsed it.
So who could be against this "good government" improvement? The main
opposition has come from political insiders and operatives who already know
how to manipulate the existing system. They don't like "majority rule," and
have employed the usual scare tactics to confuse people. They are saying
things like it's too complicated and too expensive, or it's illegal, and
besides "the sky will fall if we pass Measure 1."
But, Measure 1 is not illegal or unconstitutional, courts and federal
agencies consistently have upheld instant runoff voting because it complies
with the "one person, one vote" principle and all federal and constitutional
And it's not too complicated. Australians have been using instant runoff
voting for 70 years. Various universities, high schools, and even
elementary schools use it to elect class officers. If Australians and
schoolchildren can handle it, Alaskans should do just fine. Ranking your
favorite candidates is no more difficult than ranking your favorite movies
or sports teams.
And implementing Measure 1 won't be expensive because Alaska's modern voting
equipment can handle it just fine with minor software adjustments. In fact,
cost savings for cities like Anchorage that currently use two-round runoff
elections could be hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Measure 1 is "good government" at its best. We will elect candidates who
have the support of a majority and who are more likely to listen to all
Alaskans. We can save significant tax dollars by getting rid of unnecessary
runoff elections. And we will regain the greater choice we had with the
blanket primary. Voters will be liberated to openly express our true
feelings for more candidates, instead of worrying about spoiler candidates.