Anchorage Daily News
Runoff proposal defeated 2-1 in
August 28, 2002
Backers of instant runoff voting say they will try
again after their ballot initiative lost by close to a 2-1 margin in
With about 90 percent of Alaska's 446 precincts
reporting, 64 percent of voters had rejected the measure, also
called preferential voting, which called for adopting a method of
balloting used in few other elections nationwide.
"We're not discouraged," said initiative sponsor and
Anchorage attorney Ken Jacobus. "I'm sure the idea will be
resurrected in the future sometime. It's the right thing to do.
We're just sorry Alaskans did not decide to be the leader on this."
Opponents said they were not surprised Alaskans
rejected instant runoff voting by a wide margin.
Alaska League of Women Voters President Cheryl Jebe
said preferential voting violates the principle of one person, one
vote. She also said the measure was too confusing and too costly to
"Alaskans are not ready to change their method of
voting," Jebe said. "This would have been a drastic change, with
consequences we can't even begin to fathom."
The initiative sought to make Alaska one of the few
states with some sort of preferential voting system. Utah uses
instant runoff elections for congressional candidates in primaries
only. Louisiana's overseas ballots use the system for all races in
primary and general elections. The measure would have eliminated
Alaska's plurality-vote elections, in which candidates with the
highest vote win. In their place would be preferential voting for
future federal and most state elections. Gubernatorial races would
have been exempt because the Alaska Constitution specifies a
The instant runoff process, more common in local
elections and overseas, would allow voters to list their top choices
for an office in descending order. If no candidate received more
than 50 percent of the first-choice vote, the lowest vote-getter
would be defeated. Then the second choice votes of voters who picked
the losing candidate would be added to the totals for the remaining
The process would continue until one candidate
received more than 50 percent.
With 90 percent of precincts reporting this morning,
60,088 people voted against the instant runoff voting plan, while
33,938 voted for the measure, a 64-36 percentage split.
Jacobus said the initiative failed because the public
didn't understand the concept.
"Basically, it would have brought a majority vote
without expensive runoff elections at taxpayers' expense and it
would allow minority parties to vote their conscience," Jacobus
Alaska has six recognized political parties and a long
history of independent voters.
Besides the Alaskan Independence Party and Democrats
and Republicans, the state recognizes Libertarians and the Green and
Republican Moderate parties. The Republican, Green, AIP and
Libertarian parties endorsed the preferential voting measure.
Democrats opposed it and Republican Moderates took no official
Nearly 52 percent of the state's registered voters
classify themselves as undeclared, nonpartisan or members of
political parties other than the six recognized state parties,
according to the Alaska Division of Elections. The state has 114,357
registered Republicans and 71,597 registered