Legislature(2023 - 2024)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

01/24/2023 03:30 PM Senate STATE AFFAIRS

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Audio Topic
03:31:38 PM Start
03:32:48 PM Introductions
03:37:05 PM Presentation(s): 2022 Elections Recap
04:08:11 PM Presentation(s): Alaska 2022 Primary Elections Data
04:28:03 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Teleconferenced --
+ Presentation: 2022 Elections Recap by TELECONFERENCED
Juli Lucky (Executive Director, Alaskans for
Better Elections)
Presentation: Alaska Election 2022: Data from The
Statewide Primaries by Jeannette Lee (Alaska
Research Director, Sightline Institute)
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
            SENATE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                           
                        January 24, 2023                                                                                        
                           3:31 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Scott Kawasaki, Chair                                                                                                   
Senator Matt Claman, Vice Chair                                                                                                 
Senator Jesse Bjorkman                                                                                                          
Senator Bill Wielechowski                                                                                                       
Senator Kelly Merrick                                                                                                           
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
PRESENTATION(S):  2022 ELECTIONS RECAP                                                                                          
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
PRESENTATION(S):  ALASKA ELECTIONS 2022                                                                                         
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
JULIE LUCKI, Executive Director                                                                                                 
Alaskans for Better Elections                                                                                                   
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented the 2022 Elections Recap.                                                                       
SCOTT KENDALL, Attorney                                                                                                         
Alaskans for Better Elections                                                                                                   
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions about the 2022 elections.                                                              
JEANNETTE LEE, Alaska Research Director                                                                                         
Sightline Institute                                                                                                             
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented data  on the 2022  Alaska statewide                                                            
primary elections.                                                                                                              
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
3:31:38 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SCOTT KAWASAKI  called the  Senate  State Affairs  Standing                                                            
Committee meeting  to order  at 3:31 p.m.  Present at the  call to                                                              
order  were Senators  Wielechowski, Merrick,  Bjorkman, and  Chair                                                              
Kawasaki. Senator Claman arrived during the introductions.                                                                      
3:32:48 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  KAWASAKI  asked the  members  to introduce  themselves  and                                                              
talk about  their district  and their interest  in serving  on the                                                              
State Affairs Committee.                                                                                                        
3:33:25 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MATT  CLAMAN, District H,  introduced himself  and relayed                                                              
that he was  privileged to be in  the Senate and pleased  to serve                                                              
on this important  committee because of the broad  issues it hears                                                              
such as elections and access to voting.                                                                                         
3:34:09 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BILL WIELECHOWSKI,  District  K,  introduced himself  and                                                              
relayed  that he chaired  this committee  about  a decade  ago. He                                                              
enjoys State  Affairs because of  the wide and varied  issues that                                                              
are  considered.  He expressed  particular  interest  in  election                                                              
issues,  campaign  finance issues,  good  government,  and how  to                                                              
make it work better.                                                                                                            
3:34:46 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KELLY  MERRICK, District  L, introduced  herself  and said                                                              
she was looking  forward to serving on this committee.  She was in                                                              
the House for four  years and served on the Finance  Committee but                                                              
not on  any standing committees.  She looks forward to  serving on                                                              
this  committee  which will  allow  earlier participation  in  the                                                              
legislative process.                                                                                                            
3:35:15 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  JESSE  BJORKMAN,  District   D,  introduced  himself  and                                                              
stated that  good government is  important to him. He  shared that                                                              
a  large  accomplishment  when  he  sat  on  the  Kenai  Peninsula                                                              
Borough Assembly  was to  rewrite the  borough's election  laws to                                                              
clarify  the processes  and  assure  people that  their  elections                                                              
were safe,  secure, and reliable.  He was  eager to engage  in the                                                              
discussion  about elections  and other  conversations about  state                                                              
government  so people can  maintain the  social fabric  connection                                                              
between themselves  as citizens  and the  government of  the great                                                              
state of Alaska.                                                                                                                
CHAIR SCOTT  KAWASAKI, District P  advised that the  Uniform Rules                                                              
of  the legislature  describe the  Senate  State Affairs  Standing                                                              
Committee as follows:                                                                                                           
     State  Affairs (programs  and activities  of the  Office                                                                   
     of the Governor  and the Departments  of Administration,                                                                   
     Military   and  Veterans'   Affairs,  Corrections,   and                                                                   
     Public  Safety,  and  programs  and  activities  of  the                                                                   
     Department  of  Transportation   and  Public  Facilities                                                                   
     relating to public facilities)                                                                                             
^PRESENTATION(S):  2022 ELECTIONS RECAP                                                                                         
             PRESENTATION(S):  2022 ELECTIONS RECAP                                                                         
3:37:05 PM                                                                                                                  
CHAIR  KAWASAKI stated  that the  purpose  of the  meeting was  to                                                              
begin a series  of discussions about the election  cycle last year                                                              
and   the  implementation   of   Ballot  Measure   2.  The   first                                                              
presentation  will be a  recap of the  2022 elections  by Alaskans                                                              
for  Better Elections.  This  is  the group  that  worked to  pass                                                              
Ballot  Measure 2  in 2020  and  helped to  implement the  ranked-                                                              
choice voting (RCV)  process. He listed the  individuals available                                                              
online  to  answer  questions  and welcomed  Julie  Lucki  to  the                                                              
witness table.                                                                                                                  
3:38:44 PM                                                                                                                    
JULIE LUCKI,  Executive Director,  Alaskans for Better  Elections,                                                              
Juneau,   Alaska,  reviewed   her   professional  background   and                                                              
introduced  the  individuals  who  were online  and  available  to                                                              
answer technical and legal questions.                                                                                           
MS.  LUCKI  began by  thanking  the  legislature for  funding  the                                                              
implementation and  education process  for the 2022  elections. It                                                              
made the positive results possible.                                                                                             
3:40:47 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. LUCKI  turned to slide 2  and explained that Ballot  Measure 2                                                              
passed   in  2020.   While  some   dark   money  provisions   were                                                              
implemented,  the 2022  election saw  just two  main changes  that                                                              
applied   to  all   statewide  elections.   She  paraphrased   the                                                              
                     What changed in 2022?                                                                                    
     All statewide elections now follow the same, two-step                                                                      
   STEP 1: Nonpartisan "final four" Primary. This is referred                                                                   
    to the pick-one primary. The top four vote-getters move                                                                     
     STEP 2: Ranked Choice Voting General election.                                                                             
MS.  LUCKI explained  that the  process for  the special  election                                                              
was changed  so that  the system  for all  elections would  be the                                                              
same.  This applied  to  all  statewide elections,  including  the                                                              
people that districts  send to Juneau and the people  who are sent                                                              
to Washington, DC.  Ranked-choice voting (RCV) would  also be used                                                              
for  the Presidential  Election, but  not the  Primary. The  large                                                              
difference for  RCV is that the  top four vote-getters  move on to                                                              
the general election, regardless of their party affiliation.                                                                    
MS.  LUCKI  described the  benefits  of  the Step  1:  Nonpartisan                                                              
"Final Four" Primary:                                                                                                           
- All voters have access to all candidates in the publicly                                                                      
   funded primary.  There is  no more choosing  a ballot  and                                                                   
   limiting the choices of  any voter. In Alaska,  58 percent                                                                   
   of registered voters do not affiliate with  any party. RCV                                                                   
   allows them  to select  the candidates  they  like in  the                                                                   
   different  elections,  regardless  of  party  affiliation.                                                                   
   Likewise, voters  who are  in  a political  party are  not                                                                   
   limited to the candidates in their party.  Voters are able                                                                   
   to vote for any candidate on the ballot.                                                                                     
- The most competitive candidates proceed to the General                                                                        
- This creates less of a barrier to entry to Alaska's                                                                           
   citizen  legislature  because  voters  can  vote  for  any                                                                   
   candidate on the ballot. This ensures  that the candidates                                                                   
   who are the people's choice are the ones that move on.                                                                       
- All candidates, including independents, start on a level                                                                      
   playing field.                                                                                                               
MS. LUCKI  emphasized that  parties still  play an important  role                                                              
by endorsing and  financially supporting candidates.  However, RVC                                                              
leads to  more competition at the  general election. She  cited an                                                              
example  from  Senate  District   O  that  remained  a  Republican                                                              
stronghold after  redistricting. In the previous  two decades, the                                                              
margin for  most races in the  district was more than  45 percent.                                                              
That changed  in 2022  and the General  election race  became very                                                              
3:45:37 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR CLAMAN asked where District O was located.                                                                              
MS. LUCKI  replied it was  Senator Shower's district.  She offered                                                              
to  provide  information  on  other  districts  that  saw  similar                                                              
3:46:37 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. LUCKI  reviewed the  process for  ranked-choice voting  in the                                                              
General election:                                                                                                               
- Voters rank candidates in order of preference.                                                                                
- If  a candidate  receives a majority  (50 percent  + 1  vote) of                                                              
   first-choice votes, they win. She noted that some candidates                                                                 
   did receive a majority in the initial count while others went                                                                
   to tabulation.                                                                                                               
- If no candidate  receives 50 percent + 1 of  first choice votes,                                                              
  the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and voters                                                                  
  that ranked that candidate as their first choice have their                                                                   
  second choice vote counted for the next round.                                                                                
- This  process continues  until two candidates  are left  and the                                                              
   one with the most votes wins.                                                                                                
MS.  LUCKI relayed  that  in  the 2022  elections,  12  of the  62                                                              
elections went to  tabulation. The balance (50  candidates) won in                                                              
round  one.  She noted  that  in  the statewide  races,  the  same                                                              
constituency  elected a variety  of winners.  No particular  party                                                              
was favored; people chose the candidate they wanted.                                                                            
MS. LUCKI  reviewed the  benefits of  ranked-choice voting  in the                                                              
General election:                                                                                                               
- Voters can express their preference from among all candidates.                                                                
- A candidate needs a majority to win.                                                                                          
     - This encourages candidates to appeal to a larger                                                                         
        percentage of their constituency.                                                                                       
     - The candidates who are elected are more accountable to                                                                   
        their constituents. Voters select the candidates who are                                                                
        most aligned with their values.                                                                                         
- RCV allows  Alaskans to vote  their heart without fear  of vote-                                                              
  splitting  and contributing  to their  least favorite  candidate                                                              
  getting elected.  Some  evidence of  this was  seen in  previous                                                              
  elections.  The three  "come  from  behind" victories  in  House                                                              
  District 11 demonstrated  how RCV eliminates the  spoiler effect                                                              
  by providing more choices for voters.                                                                                         
MS.  LUCKI  relayed  that  one reason  that  Alaskans  for  Better                                                              
Elections believes  that RCV is a voter-centric reform  is that it                                                              
puts more choices before the voters.                                                                                            
3:49:52 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  LUCKI  stated  that  the  expectation  for  the  2022  Alaska                                                              
elections was that  there would be a long period  of education and                                                              
implementation   followed  by   the   first  nonpartisan   Primary                                                              
election in August  and finally the first ranked-choice  voting in                                                              
the November General election.                                                                                                  
She said what  happened was that the implementation  was truncated                                                              
and  the  education  was  ongoing from  January  to  the  November                                                              
General  election. Much  of the  education had  to occur early  so                                                              
that voters  knew how to fill out  the RCV ballot for  the special                                                              
nonpartisan  Primary election  in June.  This was  also the  first                                                              
statewide  all-vote-by-mail  election. In  August,  there was  the                                                              
combination ballot  with the nonpartisan  Primary election  on one                                                              
side of the ballot  and the first RVC Special General  election on                                                              
the other  side of  the ballot. Those  elections were  followed by                                                              
the ranked-choice voting General election in November.                                                                          
MS.  LUCKI said  she highlighted  the foregoing  to emphasize  the                                                              
remarkable  job   Alaskans  did  in  filling  out   their  ballots                                                              
correctly and how  exemplary the Division of  Elections' education                                                              
and implementation  efforts were. The voters knew how  to fill out                                                              
their ballots.                                                                                                                  
3:51:24 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. LUCKI displayed slide 9 and paraphrased the following:                                                                      
[Original punctuation provided.]                                                                                                
                    Alaskans Understand RCV                                                                                   
    Despite    the    challenges     and    the    shortened                                                                    
      education/implementation timeline, in the first RCV                                                                       
     election in August:                                                                                                        
        • 99.8% of ballots were correctly filled out.                                                                           
        • 73% of voters ranked at least two candidates.                                                                         
        • In exit polling of primary voters:                                                                                    
          • 95% had received instructions of RCV.                                                                               
          • 85% stated it was "simple."                                                                                         
          • 62% supported the open primary.                                                                                     
        • Turnout was the highest in a primary since PFD                                                                        
          Voter Registration was established.                                                                                   
MS. LUCKI  stated that there were  very low error rates;  just 342                                                              
ballots  were rejected  for overvotes.  She noted  that she  would                                                              
talk about  the errors that  weren't related  to RCV later  in the                                                              
presentation. She  reiterated that Alaskan voters did  a very good                                                              
job of filling out the RCV ballots correctly.                                                                                   
3:52:33 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI asked  if she  had polling  data on  whether                                                              
RCV was confusing because he'd heard people argue that point.                                                                   
MS.  LUCKI answered  yes.  Of those  polled,  85  percent said  it                                                              
wasn't  difficult and  the  proof  was the  low  error rate.  This                                                              
showed that the voters understood how to fill out the ballots.                                                                  
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI  asked if  there  was  any polling  data  to                                                              
support or refute the argument that RCV is undemocratic.                                                                        
MS.  LUCKI  replied  that  an  exit   poll  question  asked  about                                                              
competition  and close  to 60 percent  of people  polled said  the                                                              
races were  more competitive.  She offered to  follow up  with the                                                              
complete exit polling data.                                                                                                     
3:54:43 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. LUCKI displayed slide 10 and paraphrased the following:                                                                     
[Original punctuation provided.]                                                                                                
                    Alaskans Understand RCV                                                                                     
In the November election:                                                                                                       
   • On average, 99.9% of ballots were correctly filled out,                                                                    
     which is on par with traditional, single-choice elections.                                                                 
   • Multiple races and data points showed that voters had a                                                                    
     good understanding of RCV. Voters were more likely to rank:                                                                
     • In competitive races;                                                                                                    
     • In races with multiple candidates; and                                                                                   
     • When their first choice wasn't favored to win.                                                                           
MS. LUCKI  clarified that the foregoing  was not polling  data. It                                                              
was  clear that  there was  a higher  percentage  of ranking  when                                                              
ranking  would count.  She interpreted  that to  mean that  voters                                                              
were  sufficiently sophisticated  to understand  the mechanics  of                                                              
3:55:59 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. LUCKI displayed slides 11 and 12 and paraphrased the                                                                        
[Original punctuation provided.]                                                                                                
               2022 Alaska Elections - Successes                                                                              
     • More choice for voters:                                                                                                  
        • A  larger, more  diverse  candidate  pool and  more                                                                   
          candidates from historically underrepresented                                                                         
        • Candidates  mirrored Alaska:  the 48 candidates  in                                                                   
          the special primary represented a broad range of                                                                      
          political ideologies from every corner of Alaska.                                                                     
       • RCV didn't favor one party over another: in the                                                                        
        three statewide  races, incumbents  were favored  but                                                                   
        the  winners  represented  different  points  on  the                                                                   
        political spectrum.                                                                                                     
     • More competition overall:                                                                                                
        • Voters    polled    thought   races    were    more                                                                   
        • Competitive  races  moved  to  the  General,  where                                                                   
          more voters participate.                                                                                              
       • Vote splitting was prevented and candidates had                                                                        
        majority  support:  The  three  "come   from  behind"                                                                   
        victories show that the system works.                                                                                   
     • Alaskan voters are complex and independent. The system                                                                   
        allows them to express that complexity.                                                                                 
MS.  LUCKI  provided  additional  data.  In the  US  Senate  race,                                                              
Republican  Buzz  Kelley  was  eliminated  first and  893  of  his                                                              
voters ranked  Democrat Patricia  Chesbro as their  second choice.                                                              
In the  second round,  2,209 of  Patricia Chesbro's voters  ranked                                                              
Republican  Kelly  Tshibaka  next.  The research  showed  that  18                                                              
percent of  voters crossed party  lines in their top  two choices.                                                              
She opined that  RVC is a voter-centric system  that allows voters                                                              
to express  their preferences.  She  described RCV  as a good  and                                                              
successful reform.                                                                                                              
3:59:13 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  LUCKI discussed  the  lessons learned  from  the 2022  Alaska                                                              
- The statute  needs to be  amended to align the  special election                                                              
   candidate replacement timeline with the  Division of Elections'                                                              
   (DOE) withdrawal deadlines. She  noted that the first  RCV only                                                              
   had three candidates to choose from and  that was challenged in                                                              
-   Alaskans for  Better Elections  feels the  reforms and  system                                                              
   worked fairly well.                                                                                                          
- Issuing  a sample ballot  as part of  the education  process was                                                              
   very helpful.                                                                                                                
-  More  research  is needed  to  determine  why  ballots  weren't                                                              
   counted and to find solutions for:                                                                                           
     - The witness/signature errors that invalidated thousands                                                                  
        of absentee and special needs ballots.                                                                                  
     - The disenfranchisement of 300 rural village voters                                                                       
        because their ballots were not received by the deadline                                                                 
        and thus were not fully counted.                                                                                        
     - The lack of ballot tracking and curing processes.                                                                        
MS. LUCKI offered to answer questions.                                                                                          
4:02:22 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR   WIELECHOWSKI  asked   if  anything   about  the   ballot                                                              
initiative needed to be improved.                                                                                               
MS. LUCKI deferred to Mr. Kendall.                                                                                              
4:02:48 PM                                                                                                                    
SCOTT   KENDALL,   Attorney,  Alaskans   for   Better   Elections,                                                              
Anchorage,  Alaska, stated  that the  one obvious  issue was  that                                                              
for  the  special  election, the  candidate  dropout  date  didn't                                                              
align with  the candidate  replacement date.  When nonpartisan  Al                                                              
Gross dropped out  of the race, DOE applied the  other deadline in                                                              
statute so  Republican Tara  Sweeny could not  replace him  on the                                                              
ballot. A  simple fix would  be to amend  the election  statute to                                                              
say  that  in  a  special  election   the  candidate  dropout  and                                                              
replacement dates are the same.                                                                                                 
CHAIR KAWASAKI  asked if there was  a specific reason to  have the                                                              
top four candidates appear on the general election ballot.                                                                      
MR. KENDALL said  he looked at different systems from  two to five                                                              
candidates. The top  two didn't provide enough choice  and the top                                                              
five seemed to be  the natural ceiling. He was  leaning toward the                                                              
top  three  candidates for  Ballot  Measure  2 when  some  sitting                                                              
legislators  convinced  him  that   Alaskan  elections  were  more                                                              
complicated than  many states and of that reason,  four candidates                                                              
would be  the sweet spot.  He noted that  research has  shown that                                                              
RCV is likely to fail when there are too many choices.                                                                          
4:06:57 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR CLAMAN  asked Ms. Lucki  how many fourth  place candidates                                                              
in the November  General election received more  than five percent                                                              
of the votes cast.                                                                                                              
MS. LUCKI  said she would run  the calculation and follow  up with                                                              
the answer.                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  CLAMAN commented  that his  sense was  that not too  many                                                              
fourth place candidates came close to that number.                                                                              
CHAIR KAWASAKI thanked Ms. Lucki for the presentation.                                                                          
^PRESENTATION(S):  ALASKA 2022 PRIMARY ELECTIONS DATA                                                                           
      PRESENTATION(S):  ALASKA 2022 PRIMARY ELECTIONS DATA                                                                  
4:08:11 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KAWASAKI  announced a presentation from  Sightline Institute                                                              
on Alaska 2022 election data from the statewide primaries.                                                                      
4:08:51 PM                                                                                                                    
JEANNETTE  LEE,  Alaska Research  Director,  Sightline  Institute,                                                              
Anchorage,  Alaska, thanked  the legislature  and the Division  of                                                              
Elections for ensuring  that the 2022 elections  ran smoothly. She                                                              
also thanked  the State  Affairs Committee  for the invitation  to                                                              
review the data.                                                                                                                
4:09:15 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  LEE  stated  that Sightline  Institute  ("Sightline")  is  an                                                              
independent,  nonpartisan, public  policy  thinktank that  focuses                                                              
on  Alaska and  the Pacific  Northwest. She  briefly reviewed  her                                                              
professional  career.  She explained  that  Sightline's  Democracy                                                              
Program  evaluates  and  proposes   policy  changes  that  support                                                              
diversity  and expand  voter choices  in elections.  She said  her                                                              
research showed that  for statewide races in 2022,  open primaries                                                              
and ranked-choice  voting (RCV) appeared to deliver  diversity and                                                              
choice more effectively than the previous system.                                                                               
She explained how  this was determined. The Sightline  team looked                                                              
at the overall  candidate pool in the statewide  primary races for                                                              
governor, lieutenant  governor, US House, and US  Senate and asked                                                              
the following questions:                                                                                                        
   1. Did political diversity increase/decrease?                                                                                
   2. Did significantly more/fewer candidates run for office?                                                                   
   3. How many of the statewide primaries were competitive due to                                                               
     having more than one candidate?                                                                                            
   4. Did more/fewer women run for statewide office?                                                                            
MS. LEE advised  that Sightline gathered this data  from 2010-2022                                                              
and   evaluated  whether   open   primaries  and   RCV  played   a                                                              
significant role and what other factors were involved.                                                                          
4:11:58 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. LEE reviewed  the chart on slide 3 which  shows that political                                                              
diversity increased  starting in 2020.  Before then there  were no                                                              
Independent  candidates  in  statewide   primaries.  In  2018  and                                                              
earlier,  Alaska had  particularly  high barriers  for  candidates                                                              
who  did  not  identify as  Democrat  or  Republican.  The  Alaska                                                              
Democratic   Party   changed  its   bylaws   in   2018  to   allow                                                              
Independents  to run  in  the primary,  and  in 2020  Independents                                                              
accounted  for more  than one-quarter  of the  total of  statewide                                                              
primary candidates.  In 2022, the state's new  open primary system                                                              
allowed candidates  to easily  opt out of  either major  party and                                                              
48 percent  did so. Independent  candidates made up 31  percent of                                                              
the pool  and the share of  Democratic Party candidates  decreased                                                              
to  the lowest  level since  2010.  The share  of third-party  and                                                              
Republican Party  candidate showings was unremarkable  compared to                                                              
previous  years.  She summarized  that  the share  of  Independent                                                              
candidates  came   closer  than   in  any  previous   election  to                                                              
mirroring  the independent  composition  of  the  majority of  the                                                              
Alaska electorate.  Greater political  diversity in  the candidate                                                              
pool  helped increase  voters'  chances  to find  candidates  that                                                              
matched their political values.                                                                                                 
4:15:20 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MERRICK   asked  if  the   increase  in  the   number  of                                                              
candidates that  ran for Congress  had to  do with the  passing of                                                              
the late Congressman Young or RCV.                                                                                              
MS. LEE said the next slide will address the question.                                                                          
4:16:06 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  LEE directed  attention to  the line  graph on  slide 4  that                                                              
reflects the  number of  candidates in  the primary elections  for                                                              
governor,  lieutenant  governor,  US  House, and  US  Senate.  The                                                              
interest  in running  for  the state  races  saw  a slight  uptick                                                              
while the  interest in running  for both congressional  seats more                                                              
than doubled the usual number of participants.                                                                                  
To  Senator  Merrick's  question,   she  said  the  absence  of  a                                                              
powerful  incumbent  in  the  US   House  race  likely  gave  more                                                              
candidates  hope of  success,  but  there could  be  a variety  of                                                              
reasons that  factor in. Future  elections will provide  a clearer                                                              
picture of whether Alaska can expect larger candidate fields.                                                                   
4:18:22 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  LEE turned  to  the bar  graph  on slide  5  which shows  the                                                              
percentage  of   statewide  primary  races  with   more  than  one                                                              
candidate.  She pointed  out  that  the races  in  2022 were  more                                                              
competitive than  at any time since  2010. Just 4 of the  32 major                                                              
party candidates  did not  have any  competition. For  third-party                                                              
candidates, more  uncompetitive statewide  primary races  were the                                                              
norm. She  described the  statewide primary  races as  exceedingly                                                              
competitive  since  the return  of  the  open primary.  After  the                                                              
election reform, voters had more choices.                                                                                       
She  acknowledged that  including Independents  on the  Democratic                                                              
ballot   starting   in   2020   may   have   boosted   Independent                                                              
participation in  statewide primaries,  as indicated on  the first                                                              
slide,  but this  slide shows  it failed  to improve  competition.                                                              
For example, in  2020 a single candidate was  running unopposed in                                                              
the Republican  primary for US Senate  and only the return  of the                                                              
open  primary in  2022 brought  true competition  back across  all                                                              
statewide races.                                                                                                                
4:21:13 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  LEE  displayed the  pie  charts  on  slide  6 that  show  the                                                              
percentage  and count  of women  candidates  in statewide  primary                                                              
elections  from  2010  to  2022.  In  2022,  nearly  one-third  of                                                              
statewide  primary  candidates were  women.  That  is the  highest                                                              
rate in  the seven  years that  were examined.  She reported  that                                                              
research shows that  nonprofits advocate for reforms  that include                                                              
gender  parity  in politics.  They  support  women.  Ranked-choice                                                              
elections  can help  by  reducing  concerns about  vote  splitting                                                              
between  women  candidates,  incentivize   more  cooperation,  and                                                              
lower the financial barriers for all candidates.                                                                                
MS. LEE stated that  in Alaska there were many  factors other than                                                              
Ballot Measure 2  reforms that may have caused more  women to run.                                                              
These  include issues  relating  to  reproductive  rights and  the                                                              
nationwide  trend  for  women  to  move  into  powerful  political                                                              
roles. In  the Alaska primary race  for governor last  year, eight                                                              
of  the  ten   male  candidates  asked  women  to   run  as  their                                                              
lieutenant  governor.  She shared  her  view  that this  showed  a                                                              
shift  in political  culture.  She also  pointed  out that  female                                                              
participation  in  Alaska  statewide primaries  has  been  erratic                                                              
since 2010  which makes it difficult  to say whether  the election                                                              
reform affected women's decision to run.                                                                                        
MS. LEE summarized  that with the election reforms,  Alaska voters                                                              
were   unconstrained  politically   and   candidates  across   the                                                              
spectrum won  in the statewide races.  However, 2022 was  just one                                                              
election cycle  and it  will take several  more cycles  for proof.                                                              
She  concluded  her  testimony   by  sharing  that  Sightline  was                                                              
working  on an  analysis  across time  of  the Alaska  legislature                                                              
that looks  at political  diversity, generational  representation,                                                              
gender, and race  to see whether any significant  changes occurred                                                              
and/or how much the election system had an effect.                                                                              
4:25:51 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KAWASAKI thanked Ms. Lee for the presentation.                                                                            
4:28:03 PM                                                                                                                    
There  being no  further business  to come  before the  committee,                                                              
Chair  Kawasaki  adjourned  the   Senate  State  Affairs  Standing                                                              
Committee meeting at 4:28 p.m.                                                                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Senate State Affairs_Sightline_2022 Election PDF.pdf SSTA 1/24/2023 3:30:00 PM
2022 Elections Recap
ABE SSTA 2023.01.24 final.pdf SSTA 1/24/2023 3:30:00 PM
2022 Elections Recap