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Help win IRV for Alaska!

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  • Cvderic@aol.com
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 16, 2002
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      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
      two weeks.

      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).

      Eric Olson
      Deputy Director
      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
      link is:


      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
      phone numbers.

      Thanking you in advance for your great support, I am,

      Sincerely yours,

      Steven Hill
      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.



      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.
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