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Category: Alaska (page 1 of 2)

Alaska Superior Court Allows the State Democratic Party to Let Independent Candidates Run in Party Primaries

By: Grace Greenberg-Spindler

Creating coalitions between independents and major political parties widens the opportunity for independents to participate in the political process. In Alaska an independent candidate must submit a filing notification and collect petition signatures, the number of which varies by level of office. Additionally, independent candidates are blocked from accessing the tools of state-recognized parties such as the Alaska Democratic Party (“ADR”) and the Alaska Republican Party. Rule AS 15.25.030(a)(16) requires “primary election candidates to be registered members of the party in whose primary they run.”

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Alaska Joins Growing Number of States with Automatic Voter Registration   

By: Grace Greenberg-Spindler 

Alaska’s automatic voter registration law went into effect March 1, 2017, making Alaska one of ten states, the fourth state to do so in this year, to enact such legislation. The new bill was introduced through Ballot Measure 1 (15PFVR), which passed in the November 8, 2016 referendum with more than 63% of support from Alaskan voters. The bill also received bipartisan support from Republican leaders Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Sen. Dan Sullivan and Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux as well as Democratic Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins and former Sen. Mark Begich.      

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Alaska Natives Afforded Voting Rights

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was one of the single greatest accomplishments of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.  The act bans racial discrimination in voting practices by all levels of government, and was enacted with the specific purpose of enfranchising millions of African-Americans in the South and Latinos in the Southwest, as well as those who had been shut out of the voting process because of their lack of English fluency.  Due to its overwhelming success,  the Voting Rights Act is often considered the “most effective civil rights law ever enacted.” Although a major component of the Voting Rights Act was held to be unconstitutional in the case Shelby County v. Holder in 2013, some states are still experiencing the benefits the Voting Rights Act was meant to provide.

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Ballot Initiatives for Marijuana Legalization Track Public Opinion

By Hannah Whiteker

Fans of direct democracy should be excited about the increased use of state ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana use. Direct democracy  allows citizens to enact and change laws, instead of electing representatives to make important decisions for them. One of the ways that the United States utilizes direct democracy is through state ballot initiatives. If a group of voters wants to get an initiative on the ballot to pass a law in their state (there is no initiative process for federal elections), the group must first get enough voters to sign a petition supporting the initiative. The number of signatures required varies by state. If the group satisfies the signature requirement, the initiative is put on the ballot for the next statewide election to be voted on by the people.

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Alaskan Mayor In Trouble

By: Eduardo Lopez

The issue of campaign contribution reform has always been a major topic in American politics, but especially in recent years, with the United States Supreme Court striking down limitations on federal campaign donations. Although the Supreme Court of the United States has made a final decision with regard to federal campaign donation limitations, states still possess the power to implement limitations on contributions on the state level.

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A “Nice Sunny Day With No Snow” and the Growing Influence of Alaska Natives

By Thomas J. Lukish

Lukish Post 2Late September featured more than a mere drop in temperatures for Alaska residents, as U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason issued an interim order that would shake the state’s electoral landscape. Continue reading

Speaking Their Language: How Appreciation for Culture Will Lead to Participation in Politics

By Tom Lukish

Lukish Post 1From its western banks along the Bering Strait to its eastern border with the Yukon Territory, Alaska encompasses a large terrain colloquially known as “The Last Frontier.”  A home for some 735,000, and a vacation destination for many more, America’s northernmost state perhaps likely comprises the only world several Yup’ik- and Gwich’in-speaking villagers have ever known.  Indeed, many in Alaska’s southwest region, “still depend upon subsistence fishing, hunting and gathering for food.”  For them, and for advocates nationwide of a more expansive Voting Rights Act (VRA), there is tremendous hope for the future.  3,770 miles from the pertinent jurisdiction in last year’s Shelby County v. Holder and nearly fifty years after the initial passing of the VRA, Alaska Natives present a new sort of story.

In certain parts of Alaska, such as those which encompass the Wade Hampton Census Area, American Indians and Alaska Natives amount to approximately 92% of the total population.  Perhaps realizing the cultural influence such individuals maintain, organizations like the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) have made efforts to assist natives as they seek increased political efficacy in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Continue reading

Language of Voting

by Adam Barger, Contributor

Proper oversight of voting policy and procedure is being questioned in Alaska’s elections due to the lack of language assistance for Yup’ik speakers. The federal lawsuit, Toyukuk v. Treadwell, filed by the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), claims that Alaskan officials have violated the Voting Rights Act, as well as the 14th and 15th Amendments, by failing to provide appropriate language assistance to native Yup’ik speakers. The suit claims this lack of assistance has  prevented them from fully participating in the election process and suppressed voter turnout. According to a case update on the NARF website,  Natalie Landreth, Senior Staff Attorney with NARF, “Without complete, accurate, and uniform translations, the right to register and to vote is rendered meaningless to many Native voters.”

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Hi, I’m IRV

by Danny Muchoki

The underlying assumption of elections is that they capture voters’ preferences. Voters go into a booth, push a button/punch a card/pop a chad and when they’re all counted up we know that the person who wins over 50% of the votes is the winner. It’s obvious, right?

Not necessarily. In 1992, Bill Clinton became President with 43 percent of the vote. In 1998, Jesse “The Body” Ventura became governor of Minnesota while winning about 37 percent of the vote. In 2010 (again in Minnesota) Mark Dayton became governor with 43.6 percent of the vote. The runner- up was behind by just .4 (point four) percentage points – 43.2 percent.

A plurality system is simple, but some argue it is fundamentally unfair to let a candidate win with a plurality, let alone a plurality that is far short of a bare majority. Continue reading

Weekly Wrap Up

Voter fraud by the Chief Election Official?: Charlie White, the Indiana Secretary of State, is being investigated by a grand jury to determine if he committed voter fraud during the May 2010 primary. White is accused of intentionally voting at the wrong precinct, a potential felony.

Misspellings can count: The Alaska Senate unanimously passed a bill on February 14 clarifying procedures for counting write-in ballots. The bill, a response to the highly-contested 2010 election of write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski, allows votes that misspell the candidates name to count. The bill now moves to the Alaska House.

$2,500 recuses a judge: Elected judges in New York will no longer be allowed to hear cases where a lawyer or party has made contributions to his/her campaign in excess of $2,500 in the last two years. The decision, a new rule announced by the state’s chief judge, is designed to curtail the effects of money in judicial politics and will take effect after a 60-day comment period.

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