New Alaska Native Co-Chairs Join Fight Against Ballot Measure 2

ANCHORAGE, September 24, 2020 — Today, Defend Alaska Elections—Vote No on 2 announced two new Alaska Native co-chairs in the fight against Ballot Measure 2: Cynthia Erickson and Dana Leask-Ruaro.

“As an Alaska Native and resident of a rural community, I am very worried about how Ballot Measure 2 would erect new barriers to voting,” said Cynthia Erickson, founder of My Grandma’s House ‘Setsoo Yeh,’ a safe haven for youth in her community. “It would impose ‘ranked choice voting’ (RCV) on Alaska. When the state of Maine adopted this experiment, they had to produce 19 pages of instructions on how to vote. How will this affect voter turnout among the elderly, the disabled, and those with language difficulties? Our current system for voting is simple and easy to understand. Nothing good will come if we replace that with an experiment that is bureaucratic and hard to understand.”

“Ranked choice or instant runoff type voting will not benefit Alaskan voters,” said Dana Leask-Ruaro, lifelong Alaskan, Alaska Native, and Native and Rural activist. “Using ranked choice voting to determine a winner in an election cuts against the principle of each Alaskan having an equal ‘one person, one vote” – a system that has served Alaska well since statehood. Ranked choice voting means some ballots or votes will be weighted stronger than others and some will be unused, not to mention confusing some voters and making counting votes more complicated and time consuming. Alaskans should reject the effort by outside special interest groups to tamper with our elections.”

A central feature of Ranked Choice Voting is “ballot exhaustion,” whereby ballots that do not indicate a second, third or fourth choice can be discarded – ultimately disenfranchising voters. It’s a problem that has disproportionately affected minority communities of color in other jurisdictions.

Erickson and Leask-Ruaro join a growing movement of Alaska Natives opposed to Ballot Measure 2, including co-chair Thomas Baker, vice-mayor of the city of Kotzebue.

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