Sponsors of petition to repeal Alaska’s ranked choice voting score a partial win in court

ballot document
This is a sample ranked choice ballot the Division of Elections created for the 2022 special election, the first time Alaska used the system. (Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

A Superior Court judge in Anchorage has dismissed a significant portion of a lawsuit filed by supporters of Alaska’s ranked choice voting.

Judge Christina Rankin ruled last week that the Division of Elections acted properly early this year when it gave sponsors of a repeal petition an opportunity to correct problems with petition booklets they submitted to the division.

Her summary judgment order brings a group called Alaskans for Honest Elections one step closer to getting a measure on the November ballot that would repeal election reforms that Alaska voters adopted in 2020. The measure aims to get rid of ranked choice voting in Alaska. It would also end Alaska’s current primary election style, in which all candidates appear on the same ballot. The repeal measure would restore the use of partisan primaries.

Three voters, represented by Anchorage attorney Scott Kendall, sued to block the repeal measure, saying repeal sponsors shouldn’t have been allowed to fix defects in their petitions after they turned them in. The most common problem was that dozens of booklets weren’t properly notarized because the notary’s commission had expired.

The judge’s decision still leaves part of the lawsuit alive. The people challenging the repeal petition claim petition circulators collected signatures improperly by, among other things, leaving signature booklets unattended and swapping booklets among circulators. Alaskans for Honest Elections defends its methods.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her atlruskin@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Lizhere.

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