ANCHORAGE (KTUU) With the Jan. 21 deadline to get an initiative on the state’s November ballot quickly approaching, groups supporting different initiatives around the state are making one last push to get the required 28,501 signatures. One group supporting an election reform initiative, says they’ve hit that number.
“We have over 35,000 signatures from Alaskans who are ready for the election reforms that we’ve outlined in the initiative,” said Former State Representative Jason Grenn, a co-chair of Alaskans for Better Education.
The initiative looks to reform Alaska’s elections by opening up primaries to all voters and switching to a ranked-choice voting system for the general election. It would also put additional scrutiny on the sources of campaign contributions.
Grenn said ABE plans on submitting their signatures on Wednesday. From there, they will be vetted by the Division of Elections to ensure at least 28,501 of the signatures are from valid Alaskan voters.
“With any initiative, you want to have some buffer,” Grenn said. “You don’t know what signatures are going to get cast out or anything like that
If all the signatures are found to be valid, there are still a couple of things that could prevent the initiative from getting on the ballot. First would be a legal challenge. The state has already taken the initiative to court, and is currently waiting on an appeal to the Alaska Supreme Court after the Superior Court sided with ABE on its constitutionality.
The second way the initiative could be stopped would be if the legislature passes a comparable law before the election. Redundancy would stop the initiative from going to the ballot.
“What we’re watching for in Juneau would be ranked-choice voting, exposure of ‘dark money,’ open primaries, any sort of legislation that’s very similar to our initiative,” Grenn said.
He also noted he doesn’t expect that to happen with this initiative.
Two other initiatives could be submitting their signatures before the deadline.
- The Fair Share Initiative, which seeks to reform Alaska’s oil tax system is continuing to gather signatures before submitting them on Jan. 17. Nate Graham, a spokesperson for Vote Yes for Alaska’s Fair Share said that the signature-gathering effort is “on track” and that they’re working to pad their numbers before submitting them.
- An initiative to move the legislature to Anchorage is also currently gathering signatures, but did not have an update for KTUU as to how many they currently have.
A fourth initiative, for an educational bill of rights announced they were suspending signature-collection efforts in December.
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