Legislature(2001 - 2002)

2001-07-20 House Journal

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2001-07-20                     House Journal                      Page 1930
HB 193                                                                                            
The following letter, dated July 13, 2001, was received:                                            
"Dear Speaker Porter:                                                                               
Under the authority of art. II, sec. 17, of the Alaska Constitution, I am                           
allowing the following bill passed by the first session of the Twenty-                              
second Alaska State Legislature to become law without my signature                                  
and am transmitting the engrossed and enrolled copies to the                                        
Lieutenant Governor's office for permanent filing:                                                  
      SENATE CS FOR CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 193 (FIN)                                                 
      "An Act relating to the primary election and to the nomination of                             
      candidates for the general election; and providing for an effective                           
      Chapter No. 103, SLA 2001                                                                     
      [Effective Date:  July 14, 2001]                                                              
Enactment of this bill will bring certainty to the process by which                                 
Alaska conducts its primary elections.  It became necessary after the                               
U.S. Supreme Court decision in California Democratic Party v. Jones,                                
which invalidated blanket primaries in states where political parties                               
objected to their use.                                                                              
I have decided to allow this bill to become law without my signature                                
to indicate my concern with the bill unnecessarily restricting voter                                

2001-07-20                     House Journal                      Page 1931
choice by requiring voters to pick one specific party's ballot for the                              
primary election. While the final version of the bill is consistent with                            
the restrictions the court placed on states' primary elections, it goes                             
beyond what the ruling requires.  I prefer, and I believe a majority of                             
Alaska voters would have preferred, the original version of the                                     
legislation, which I introduced at the request of the Primary Election                              
Task Force.                                                                                         
Lt. Governor Ulmer appointed the task force to make a                                               
recommendation on how Alaska could maintain maximum voter                                           
flexibility consistent with the Supreme Court's ruling.  Their charge                               
was to keep the system as close to the existing primary election                                    
process as possible.                                                                                
The task force bill would have provided to undeclared and non-                                      
partisan voters a blanket primary ballot that listed all the parties'                               
candidates, if the party rules permitted. Unfortunately, the final                                  
version of the bill does not permit that option. It requires those                                  
undeclared and non-partisan voters to select one specific party's                                   
primary ballot.  The legislature has chosen a closed primary system,                                
which is constitutional and used in many other states.                                              
It is my belief Alaska voters will ultimately demand a revision of this                             
system to more closely approximate the blanket primary we have used                                 
for most of the state's history - giving voters the widest possible choice                          
of candidates.  However, time is of the essence for voters, candidates,                             
parties and election workers to prepare for the August 2002 primary                                 
election.  It is therefore prudent to adopt this legislation now, allowing                          
the election process to proceed in an orderly fashion, rather than risk                             
chaos and uncertainty in approaching the next election.                                             
                                          Tony Knowles