By James Price
Sixteen borough residents formed a committee to promote the Better Elections Initiative. The purpose for this initiative is to implement a better voting system for Kenai Peninsula Borough residents that include “Vote by Mail” with a “Ranked Choice Voting” provision. The ballot initiative was filed at the borough clerk’s office on May 10.
“These changes will promote greater voter turnout, provide more opportunity for voters to make an informed decision at each borough election and will save our borough money,” said Fred Sturman, Initiative co-sponsor.
“Vote by Mail” will promote a greater opportunity for all voters to participate in the election process and to make a more informed decision in the comfort of their home. Vote by Mail is an extension of the current absentee voting process, which will mail a secure ballot to every registered borough voter.
“Rank Choice Voting” will provide voters the opportunity to elect candidates in a single election, saving our borough the significant cost of run-off elections,” added Price.
Voter participation in Borough elections peaked in 2001, at 35.5 percent, while other ‘Vote by Mail’ jurisdictions routinely enjoy more than 50 percent voter turnout in every municipal election.
In 2012, the last boroughwide election, overall voter participation was less than 16 percent. In Assembly District 1 (central peninsula, K-Beach) voter participation was 6.1 percent for their Assembly candidates. In that election, only 3 percent of registered voters chose the winner, which was less than one in 34 voters. In this example, only 462 of the 7,960 registered voters participated to decide the outcome of this election.
Poor voter turnout and costly run-off mayoral elections demonstrate the need for change. “Vote by Mail” is definitely a better system than what we are currently doing. In addition, voters would be better served by electing the borough mayor in a single election. “Vote by Mail” with “Ranked Choice Voting” is a great way to increase voter participation while at the same time reducing election costs.
The borough clerk has 10 business days to certify or reject the initiative. If certified, the clerk has 10 additional days to print petition signature booklets. Then registered voters can begin signing the petitions. A total of 997 signatures are required to put this question before voters in the 2013 Municipal election.
We would like to invite our neighbors from the southern peninsula to participate in this ballot initiative effort. If you’d like to help us put this issue before the voters to improve voter turnout and to increase voter participation throughout our borough, please contact me at 776-3481 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, to become an initiative cosponsor.
James Price is a 25-year Nikiski resident and cosponsor of the “Better Elections Initiative” along with 16 other cosponsors. He was also a cosponsor of “Alaskans for Grocery Tax Relief Now” in 2008.
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