Alaska voters received enough negative political advertising in their mailboxes. They don’t need more from of the state of Alaska.
Rep. Les Gara, D-Anchorage, plans to introduce legislation next year that will put to an end attack ads published in the state Division of Elections voter pamphlets. The bill stems from an Alaska Republican Party ad published in the pamphlet this year. It was targeted against Sen. Mark Begich, who ultimately lost the race to Republican Dan Sullivan.
It doesn’t matter so much who went after who, but it matters that the state doesn’t have rules in place stating what party ads can or can’t say. Before anyone drudges up the free speech argument, let us be clear on why this practice is wrong: The state paid $199,000 to publish the pamphlets this year, and it sold four ads for a total of $2,400. The state, because of a loophole that until this year had never been exploited, is subsidizing attack ads at rates far lower than any Black Friday deal.
The $600-per-page ads, which are mailed to homes statewide, should cost between $7,000 to $10,000, when figuring page count, printing costs, labor and postage. Subsidizing political propaganda with the state’s general fund is ethically wrong and financially irresponsible.
Voter pamphlets should have candidate information and let voters know when Election Day is happening, how to find the nearest polling location, how to submit a mail-in or absentee ballot, and detail information on relevant ballot initiatives. Alaskans can do without unneeded stumping.
Gara’s bill makes sense. Every other lawmaker who cares about the integrity of the Division of Elections should support it as well. Now that the loophole has been exposed by one party, it’s only a matter of time until others jump on board. Why not? The state is providing a cheap and easy way for parties to slam their opponents.
It’s time to attack the attack ads. Alaskans have had enough, and the state has no business subsidizing propaganda with its own money, especially when the payoff is a measly few thousand dollars. That’s not enough to pay for the paper and ink being used.
— Juneau Empire,