Is there a better sign that an election is imminent than the arrival to our mailboxes of the papery mass that is the state’s election pamphlet?
While many Alaskans usually have their minds made up long before election day thanks to personal ideologies (and a generous dose of radio and television ads), these pamphlets are still important soap boxes, providing equal time and space for political candidates, judicial recommendations and proposed ballot measures.
The key word here being equal. Candidates pay the state a small fee — the state does not charge for ballot measures or judicial recommendations — and are allotted equal, regulated space to state what they stand for.
The state also sells full-page political ads in the pamphlet at a higher fee — a practice that should end.
The state has a moral obligation to be as even-handed and nonpartisan as possible when distributing election material. Pamphlets are, in theory, factual reference books for undecided voters to consult. The inclusion of full-on political ads puts the state in the uncomfortable position of potentially paying to distribute a one-sided document to every person in Alaska.
Yes, these political ads are clearly labeled, but that’s not the point. The inclusion of political ads is an unnecessary complication, a blurring of lines, of the state’s role here. Not to mention, political ads have been proven time and time again to work. The ads should go.
A bipartisan bill introduced in the state House by Rep. Bob Lynn and Rep. Les Gara — House Bill 13 — seeks to do just that.
HB13 is a good idea that eliminates the ability of political parties to purchase full-page ads in election pamphlets.
In the process, it removes the state from a role it should not be occupying. The state’s job is to inform, not to mail flyers for political parties.
— Ketchikan Daily News,