Election Day

Ocean Davis, 9, keeps her one-year old brother LeVian Turner entertained with a game of "Peek-A-Boo" while their mother Essence Turner casts her ballot at the Precinct #3 polling station at the Noel Wien Public Library on election day Tuesday evening, October 1, 2019.

A group pushing for the implementation of ranked choice voting — among other proposed election reforms — says it is ready to turn in the signatures needed to get the initiative on the 2020 ballot in the fall. 

Alaskans for Better Elections announced the proposed initiative last year but ran into a few hiccups along the way after Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer — at the advice of Attorney General Kevin Clarkson — rejected the ballot initiative application on the stance that it combined too many election changes into only one ballot initiative application. 

Following an appeal, however, a Superior Court judge ruled in September that the group could begin collecting signatures.

The proposed 25-page ballot measure would increase requirements for campaign funding disclosure by outlawing the “use of dark money by independent expenditure groups working to influence candidate elections,” create a single primary election and institute a rank-choice voting system. 

If passed, the measure would have required voters to rank their support for candidates on a single ballot by marking them 1-4 based on preference, with 1 marking highest preference.

The group proposing the ballot measure is chaired by former Anchorage Independent Rep. Jason Grenn who served in the Alaska Legislature from 2017-18.

Grenn noted Tuesday he feels confident that the group has more than enough signatures. The group is in the process of collecting the last few signature booklets before turning them in later this week but Grenn estimated the group had “well over 35,000 signatures.”

“The night before we turn them in, we’ll do a good last count as best we can so that on Thursday we can have a closer estimate,” Grenn said. “We have until the 20th or 21st to turn them in, but we feel confident we have well over the number required and wanted to get them turned in as soon as we could.”

The group was required to collect 28,501 signatures — or 10% of the number of Alaskans who voted in the last general election.

“Truthfully, we had a late start,” Grenn said. “With the rejection and appeals and the court rulings, there were some delays so we needed to be a little more aggressive once we got the go ahead to start collecting signatures.”

The group plans to submit the signatures to the Anchorage Division of Elections office at noon Thursday. 

The application is not entirely sorted in the Supreme Court yet and a hearing remains scheduled for this spring, but Grenn noted that based on the previous Superior Court ruling, the group feels confident their appeal will hold.

Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.