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|By Meara Geraty
Digital Content Coordinator, RepresentUs
Voters in seven states passed powerful anti-corruption reforms at the ballot, but Alaska is the good news story we needed.
Alaska just became the best state in the country for anti-corruption laws.
Voters waited patiently for election officials in Alaska to count in-person and absentee ballots, and two weeks after Election Day the good news came: A narrow but decisive victory brings open primaries, ranked choice voting, and campaign finance reform to Alaska.
Over 60% of Alaskan voters are not affiliated with either major party, but independent voters used to be locked out of primary elections. Now, voters will have a single, unified primary open to all political parties — because you shouldn’t have to join a particular party to have your voice heard. Plus, closed primaries incentivize more extreme candidates, fueling partisan division.
Alaskans also made their state the second in the nation to enact Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), a simple but powerful reform that lets voters rank their candidates in order of preference and ensures no candidate can win without majority support. Learn more about Ranked Choice Voting here.
Did you know that no candidate has garnered more than 50% of the vote in a general U.S. Senate election in Alaska since 2002? That’s crazy! RCV will fix that problem by making sure winning candidates actually have support from a majority of voters, because if your first-choice candidate doesn’t make it, your vote automatically goes to your second choice.
RCV is especially important in such a diverse state with a long history of third-party and independent candidates. By ranking candidates, voters never have to worry about the spoiler effect, or feel like they’re forced to vote for the “lesser of two evils.” You can vote your conscience, without feeling like you’re wasting your vote or inadvertently supporting a candidate you dislike.
Finally, Measure 2 also made sure that politicians will no longer be able to accept unlimited, untraceable dark money to fund their campaigns. This brings transparency and accountability to all major political spending, so Alaskans know who is really trying to influence their elections.
Combined with a 2018 Anti-Corruption Law, Measure 2 makes Alaska the nationwide model for anti-corruption laws
Measure 2 didn’t come out of nowhere — this grassroots victory was powered by the momentum of Alaska’s 2018 Anti-Corruption law, HB 44.
In the cold Alaskan winter of 2018, RepresentUs members went door to door drumming up support for an Anti-Corruption Act, and gathered 45,000 signatures in favor of a ballot initiative that would strengthen conflict-of-interest rules, restrict lobbyist gifts, and stop using taxpayer money to fund politicians' travel or their overtime pay.
With a whopping 84% of Alaskans supporting the law, the legislature caved and passed HB44 in the summer of 2018 thanks to this grassroots movement.
Just like winning campaigns have done for decades, Alaskans knew that they could harness the grassroots power of the 2018 win to build support for Measure 2 and make Alaska a groundbreaking anti-corruption model.
By laying the groundwork years before, we built a groundswell of support for the anti-corruption movement, made connections with voters and organizations, and helped educate voters about our broken political system. And thanks to Maine’s progress on RCV, Alaskan voters could see RCV in action.
Thanks to their hard work, Alaska is the nationwide model for anti-corruption policies — and more victories will surely follow around the country.
People-powered movements fuel anti-corruption victories in 2020
In 2020, voters also passed 10 other anti-corruption laws, including a ballot measure that ended gerrymandering in Virginia, campaign finance reform in Oregon, ranked choice voting laws in Boulder, CO, Albany and Eureka, CA, and Bloomington and Minnetnoka, MN, and approval voting in St. Louis, MO.
Just like Alaska, these wins were powered by grassroots, cross-partisan movements, and the momentum of 2018’s historic victories for anti-gerrymandering, ranked choice voting, and more.
With each win, we get closer to federal reform — but only if we keep building momentum, and stave off attacks from well-funded special interests. That’s where you come in.
You can help power these victories across the country by joining our volunteer team. Whether it’s calling voters in other states or taking action right in your own backyard, you’re building momentum for federal reform — and having fun doing it.
Or, if volunteering isn’t for you, you can become a member of the Common Wealth with a monthly donation, and help fund future victories. From signature gathering and voter education to fighting back against special interest attacks, monthly donors support anti-corruption campaigns year-round, so we can keep winning big every Election Day.