My Turn: Alaska Democrats reach out to Alaska’s Independents

  • Wednesday, February 3, 2016 1:04am
  • Opinion

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared “we are trying to construct a more inclusive society,” he recognized that democracy is strengthened by more voices and greater participation. In today’s challenging and transformational times, embracing Alaska’s diversity, our richly expansive ideas and perspectives, inclusivity and increased participation is paramount to build a stronger democracy.

That is why the Alaska Democratic Party’s Statewide Central Committee, which is the party’s governing body between biennial conventions, voted overwhelmingly to adopt a proposal to allow independents — those who are registered as undeclared or non-partisan — the opportunity to run in our primary.

The party did not make this decision lightly. A committee was appointed to review all aspects of the proposal, which came before the committee at its meeting in Fairbanks in October 2015. Much discussion and debate took place, and in the end a majority of the party’s governing body voted to move forward with this bold action.

To better engage Alaskan voters, the Alaska Democratic Party believes systemic change is needed in our electoral process. Such change requires boldness to challenge the status quo. That is exactly what the ADP did by making this change to our party plan. The party is reaching out to independent Alaskans who share the party’s values and providing them access to run on our primary ballot.

The ADP has long been a “big tent” party. Our primary ballot has been open to all Alaskan voters for many years. Over half (54.5 percnet) of Alaskans are not affiliated with a political party. This rule change makes it possible for those unaffiliated Alaskans to run in our primary without having to file a petition to become an independent third-party candidate.

Alaskans and voters around the country are fed up with politics as usual. The ADP has made this change to encourage greater participation in the electoral process by giving voters more choices in our primary. It is in this spirit of inclusiveness and greater participation that the party embraced this change. We trust Alaskan voters will welcome the change as well.

• Nancy Courtney is Chair of the Tongass Democrats, an adjunct of the Alaska Democratic Party covering Senate District Q and House Districts 33 and 34, which includes Gustavus, Haines, Juneau, Klukwan and Skagway.

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