Voices of the Peninsula: A tale of 4 rankings

If I can’t have my first choice, I’d at least like input on my second, or even third choice.

  • Monday, October 26, 2020 11:23pm
  • Opinion
Pamela Parker (courtesy photo)

Pamela Parker (courtesy photo)

‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …”

If we didn’t know any better, we might assume this quote is a caption from an Instagram influencer’s latest photo about life during 2020. Perhaps it’s better to assume that Dickens knew the future would be a time of much-needed change. For Alaskans, that change starts with better elections and voting “yes” on Ballot Measure 2.

So what’s the problem here? Each Alaskan gets one vote in an election; the candidate with the most votes wins. It’s a fair system … or is it? Not so much. Actually, a three-candidate race can be won with only 34% support from the voters, not a majority of Alaskans. In Alaska’s history only five governors have won by a true majority (50%+1). Just like gluten-free bagels, every other election left the majority of the population feeling less than satisfied.

Bagels? Wait, where did that come from? Well, dear readers, I must be honest with you. As the owner of Everything Bagels, I do a lot of thinking in terms of those tasty cream cheese vessels. Try as we might to stay stocked up, we often run out of our popular flavors throughout the day. While this is a disappointment to customers who order with a specific bagel flavor in mind, most are satisfied if they end up with their second or even third choice. They wanted a bagel — and if they couldn’t get their favorite, they don’t swear off carbs, they make a choice based on what they would feel most comfortable having instead.

The concept for elections should be the same. If I can’t have my first choice, I’d at least like input on my second, or even third choice. Which is where Ballot Measure 2 comes into play. In addition to getting dark money out of our political races, and appealing to Alaska’s independent nature with open primaries, a “yes” on 2 will institute ranked-choice voting (RCV). RCV is an easy and effective reform that gives voters the power to rank candidates on their ballot in order of preference.

Let’s think back to that bagel example. Your first choice is an Everything bagel, but Everything has the lowest ranking out of all four bagel candidates (aka the least support from Alaskans) and is dropped from the race. Does that mean you don’t get your bagel fix? Absolutely not! Now your vote goes to your second choice, Blueberry. At this point, if one candidate has a majority (50%+1), the election is over and we have a winner. If not, the process repeats itself until one candidate has the support of the majority of Alaskans. #SoEasyACavemanCanDoIt.

This candidate may not have been your first choice, that’s true. Instead, they best represent the will of the majority, the candidate that most Alaskans support. Our current system is not working for Alaskans, but a “yes” on Ballot Measure 2 will change that.

Pamela Parker is local business owner and Soldotna resident.

• By Pamela Parker

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