This Nov. 3, we urge rural Alaskans to vote yes on Ballot Measure Two. 

Our current election system of closed primaries and uncompetitive general elections does a disservice to rural Alaskans. Ballot Measure Two offers a better path forward.

First, we’ve seen increased polarization and gridlock in Juneau in recent years, driven in part by the ideological purity tests placed on legislators by small numbers of voters in closed primaries. We are rural Alaskans with experience working in Juneau. Along with our entire state, rural Alaska loses when legislators are punished by primary voters for daring to act by values we were raised with: cooperation, humility, responsibility to the entire community.

Alaska wins when legislators work to find pragmatic, workable solutions to real problems. Our own rural legislators have a long history of working across party lines to do just that—think about Georgianna Lincoln, Al Adams, Richard Foster and Lyman Hoffman—but they need similarly pragmatic partners from elsewhere in the state. By making sure all legislators are chosen in competitive general elections, Ballot Measure Two will help secure those partners statewide.

Second, Ballot Measure Two would result in better elections right here in rural Alaska too. Under our current election system, potential candidates are discouraged from running for office because of fear they will split votes in their community or region. Political power brokers strike behind-the-scenes deals to keep candidates out of races. Other times, these power brokers will recruit candidates for the sole purpose of splitting the vote to hurt an opponent.

Ranked-choice voting in Ballot Measure Two is a simple solution that would eliminate these games and put power back in the hands of voters. It would encourage more people to take their ideas and run for office. Candidates for office will no longer be pressured to drop out in order to avoid taking votes from those favored by the political establishment. And voters would be given more choice and the opportunity to hear ideas that come from outside the same two parties.

Ballot Measure Two makes sense for rural Alaska, and we’re proud to support it.

Authors include:

Lyman Hoffman is from Bethel and has served in the Alaska Senate since 1991.

Bryce Edgmon is from Dillingham and the current Speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives. 

Georgianna Lincoln served in the Alaska Senate from 1993-2004, representing interior Alaska. 

Albert Kookesh served in the Alaska Legislature from 1997-2012, representing rural communities in Southeast and the Interior.

John Lincoln is the current representative in the Alaska House for District 40, the North Slope and Northwest Arctic.

Mamie Pardue is the Mayor of Nuiqsut.

Abel Hopson-Suvlu is a rising community leader from Utqiaġvik (formerly Barrow).

Reid Magdanz was raised in Kotzebue and worked five years in the Alaska Legislature.