J.R. Myers: Restore faith in the election process

  • By J.R. Myers
  • Wednesday, November 2, 2016 8:26pm
  • Opinion

Free, equal and fair elections are the foundation of our Republic. When our electoral system is in question, as has happened recently in Alaska, the legitimacy of our entire government is in question. We must restore public confidence in our electoral process. Our founders understood the power of an informed and active electorate. They understood that this is the only way to ensure the peaceful transfer of power, our hard fought civil legacy. Without an open vibrant system formed and vigorously maintained by educated and active citizens, such peaceful transitions are not possible. It doesn’t take much research into history or even looking around at our world today to see the many dire results which occur with the failure of civil elections.

Healthy elections begin with healthy campaigns. We need to remove the undue influence of special interest groups from the campaign process. Something is terribly wrong when tens of thousands of dollars are spent campaigning for relatively low level seats, such as the Alaska Legislature. Oftentimes, more is spent campaigning than the office pays. Why is this? Once upon a time, citizen legislators were the norm. People left their farms and businesses to serve one or two terms, then returned to their civilian lives. Now, we see an entrenched professional political class which lives a privileged lifestyle far above that of the average citizen. They deliberately exclude competition from media coverage and debates. They have amassed great wealth and power unto themselves and their cronies. This has come at a great price. The riches and perks they have appropriated belong to the people. We must restore a healthy balance. Term limits are one solution. Campaign finance reform is another. Equal application of campaign laws is yet another. Why are some candidates signs targeted by authorities, while others seem to be able to place their signs illegally with impunity? We can no longer tolerate our offices being for sale to the highest bidders. We must return to a system of servant leaders.

Publicly financed political party primaries are another area of concern. Why are certain political groups being subsidized with public dollars over others? Why are certain parties extended multiple legal benefits not afforded to others? Why are the primary decisions of the voters repeatedly overturned by party bosses? Shouldn’t all political philosophies be able to compete on an equal footing in the free marketplace of ideas? I propose that we eliminate primary elections altogether. Let all candidates compete equally, with equal funding constraints. Let all candidates go out among the people to gather signatures to enable them to appear on the ballot. Or, let the various parties select their nominees at self-funded party conventions. Let’s eliminate the undemocratic artificial distinction of Political Parties, Political Groups and Limited Political Parties which we now have in Alaska. Let all candidates be treated equally under the law, without discrimination.

Finally, let’s reform our balloting and vote counting procedures. Let’s re-institute a permanent paper ballot trail. Let’s make sure there are no conflicts of interest with those who own and operate the voting machines, or those entrusted to count the votes. Let’s make it easier for concerned voters to become poll watchers. Let’s make sure that precinct election workers are properly trained and supervised. Let’s make the entire process truly open and transparent from voter registration, to voting, to vote tallying. Only then, can we say that we have truly free, fair and open elections. If elected, I will fight to implement these ideals. I will fight to restore the health of our election process to what it was intended to be.

More in Opinion

Jodi Taylor is the board chair for Alaska Policy Forum. (Courtesy photo)
Private school, state reimbursement: family choice

By Jodi Taylor Alaskan parents have a legitimate right to choose the… Continue reading

Opinion: It’s time for bold action to protect our fisheries

Our fisheries feed the world and sustain our unique cultures and communities.

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Hard to fill positions?

Paying poverty wages to support staff, secretaries and custodians is unacceptable yet routine behavior by our district

A copy of the State of Alaska Official Ballot for the June 11, 2022, Special Primary Election is photographed on May 2, 2022. (Peninsula Clarion staff)
Choosing a candidate – Who will best represent us in D.C.?

Voters are encouraged to do homework before casting a vote

Tourists watch as one of two cubs belonging to an 18-year-old sow black bear crosses the path between groups of tourists visiting the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center on Wednesday, July 18, 2018. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Tourists have pushed us to critical mass in parts of Juneau

I don’t go to the glacier in the summer now to hike or watch bears.

Sens. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, left, and Robert Myers, R-North Pole, read through one of 41 amendments submitted to the state’s omnibus budget bill being debate on the floor of the Alaska State Senate on Monday, May 9, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: The Alaska Senate’s foolish gamble

“All these conservative people just spent all our money”

Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships. (logo provided)
Point of View: A few ideas for Mental Health Awareness Month

What are some things you can practice this month and subsequently apply to your life?

Smoke from the Swan Lake Fire impairs visibility on the Sterling Highway on Aug. 20, 2019. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: Alaskans should prepare for wildfire season

Several past large fire seasons followed snowy winters or unusually rainy springs

Alex Koplin is a founding member of Kenai Peninsula Votes. (courtesy photo)
Voices of the Peninsula: 1 candidate dined, 47 to go

By Alex Koplin Last month, I wrote a satirical piece for the… Continue reading

The logo of the Homer Trails Alliance.
Point of View: Connecting our community through trails

Homer is booming with housing development and the viability of long-standing trails is threatened