Opinion: Ballot Measure 2 puts voters first

This is a law creating transparency.

  • Thursday, October 8, 2020 12:22pm
  • Opinion

By Jonathon Taylor

To ensure our democracy lives up to the promise of self-government, voters must have the necessary information to evaluate candidates and to keep them accountable once they’re elected. The Founders gave us the First Amendment to ensure that “we the people” have the information we need to engage in robust debate when choosing our representatives.

But when wealthy special interests outspend everyone else to elect the candidates of their choice and hide what they’re doing behind shell corporations and innocent-sounding organizations, the promise of the First Amendment is lost.

Unfortunately, ever since the Supreme Court opened the door in Citizens United to unlimited corporate campaign spending, secret spending to pay for campaign ads has increased dramatically — with less and less critical information flowing to voters.

Under most existing state laws that require “disclaimers,” when people or corporations honestly buy campaign ads, they must put their name on those ads. But when wealthy special interests play games and transfer their money to other entities that in turn buy the ads, they can usually keep secret what they’re up to.

Ballot Measure 2 would end this kind of secrecy and deception, restore balance to our elections and give voters the information they need to make informed choices. This is a law creating transparency; it doesn’t pick winners and losers or limit what people can spend—it only requires them to be transparent about what they’re doing.

Ballot Measure 2 would reveal the true source of the money behind election ads and other election spending. The focus is on big money that is trying to hide where it’s coming from—not individuals or businesses who are open and transparent about their election spending. But if big, secret money is passed from one organization to another—once or twice, or even multiple times—before an ad is purchased, the initiative will reveal these transfers and trace them back to their original source.

Ballot Measure 2 would create transparency and shed light on secret spending. Wealthy special interests could no longer hide behind shell corporations and super PACs created at the last minute to shield the true source of money spent to influence elections.

Yes on 2 for Better Elections would take power out of the hands of special interests and political insiders and give it back to voters. Ballot Measure 2 will accomplish this by ending Dark Money, opening up Alaska’s primaries to all voters — regardless of party affiliation — and requiring that a majority of voters elect every winning candidate.

Jonathon Taylor is a lifelong Alaskan. He lives in Anchorage and previously resided in Juneau. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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