Judge: Alaska election proposal should advance to next phase
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Backers of a proposed ballot measure calling for ranked-choice voting in statewide elections should be allowed to begin signature gathering, a judge has decided. The state plans to appeal the ruling.
Superior Court Judge Yvonne Lamoureux in Anchorage found the application should have been certified and that the Division of Elections should let supporters begin gathering signatures to try to qualify the measure for the ballot, reported the Anchorage Daily News. Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, following advice from Attorney General Kevin Clarkson, rejected certification in August.
Department of Law spokeswoman Cori Mills said the state is asking Lamoureux to halt enforcement of her order while the state appeals.
Jason Grenn, a former Anchorage legislator who co-chairs Alaskans for Better Elections, the group backing the measure, said the group will begin mobilizing its volunteers.
Once signature-gathering booklets are available, supporters have a year to collect signatures. But if they wish to get the measure on next year’s primary or general elections ballots, rather than wait until 2022, they must gather the required 28,501 signatures before the Alaska Legislature convenes in January.
The elections proposal seeks to impose ranked-choice voting in statewide elections, install a nonpartisan primary election system and regulate so-called “dark money” campaign contributions.
In a legal opinion, Clarkson wrote the breadth of the initiative violates a constitutional requirement that ballot measures be limited to a single subject. Meyer cited that opinion in rejecting certification.
But Lamoureux ruled that all but one section deals with the part of state law covering elections. The outlying section deletes a cross-reference to that section.
Mills said a 2010 ruling by the Alaska Supreme Court raised questions about how the single-subject rule should be applied to ballot measures. To address those, the state wants the high court to weigh in now.
In a request to halt enforcement of Lamoureux’s order, Mills and senior assistant attorney general Margaret Paton-Walsh wrote they believe the state is likely to prevail in the Supreme Court.
Information from: Anchorage Daily News, http://www.adn.com