Advocacy , Newsline

Citizen Advocacy Makes a Difference in Alaska

Posted on Monday, April 1, 2024
by AMAC Action
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Phil Izon didn’t choose to become an election integrity advocate. This issue chose him. It was after a conversation Phil had with his grandfather regarding confusion over completing a ranked-choice voting (RCV) ballot in Alaska that led him to build a small organization to fight to remove this way of voting from Alaska’s elections.

AMAC Action is a veteran of the battle to stop RCV, having engaged the AMAC membership and lobbying legislatures in states throughout the country. As we’ve reported, RCV is a confusing and complex system where voters rank several candidates in order of preference instead of just voting for their chosen candidate. The experience Phil’s grandfather had with a RCV ballot highlights the need to get rid of this unnecessary voting method.

AMAC Action is proud to work alongside advocates like Phil Izon whose contributions to election integrity truly make a difference. Here is a brief look into Phil’s journey from private citizen to citizen advocate.

AMAC Action: How did ranked-choice voting come into being in Alaska?

Phil: Ranked-choice voting was pushed in Alaska with 99 percent out-of-state money. It came from a citizens’ initiative. They flew people from out-of-state to Alaska to get signatures [from people] that were not Alaskans. They were not citizens doing the citizens’ initiative. They were out-of-state people. Paid signature collectors. They spent about $7 million getting it on the ballot and getting it approved. They won by half a percent. They lost [on] election night, and then after mail-in voting and absentee voting, they won by half a percent.

And so that’s how ranked-choice voting came to Alaska.

AMAC Action: What has the experience been using ranked-choice voting in Alaska?

Phil: We technically have had 2 elections with it [but] I’d say [they were] the most miserable elections.

The general election had the lowest voter turnout ever in the entire history of the state by percentage, [a] pretty significant drop-off.

We had [US Rep] Don Young pass away and because he passed away, the governor would have appointed a replacement to finish out his term. Then, there would have been an election.

There would not have been a special election. It just would have been an election in the fall, and someone would have replaced Don Young. But because of ranked-choice voting, they had changed that.

And now it required a special election. So, no appointment and then it went to the special primary that had Sarah Palin, Nick Begich, Mary Peltola, and others on [the ballot]. In that race, you had 115, 000 votes go to Republicans, and you only had 75, 000 votes go to a Democrat, and yet the Democrat won the election.

AMAC Action: I take it ranked-choice voting is not very popular in the state of Alaska?

Phil: We collected 43,000 signatures and we turned [them] in a month early. We battled George Soros and friends the entire time we were [gathering] our signatures.

So, I would say that no, Alaska really didn’t like it because they helped us get this project done.

AMAC Action: Let’s talk about the project, Phil. How did you get involved in this effort to put ranked-choice voting on the ballot for the people to decide?

Phil: It’s interesting because my wife and I weren’t living in Alaska during the 2020 election when ranked-choice voting was voted in, and we weren’t very familiar with it. But, come fall after the special general [election] and all these weird elections with Democrats winning, even though they had 30,000 less votes, I was like, this isn’t really okay. It really came down to a phone call from my grandfather. He called me and [asked me] “what do you think of the rank choice thing?”

And I [told him] it was interesting and he [told me] “I didn’t know how to fill out the ballot.” And so, at that point, I [needed] to do something about this.

I found the law that they had changed, and then I had a couple of [state] legislative members that already had drawn up legislation about removing ranked-choice voting [send me their bill].

I just changed the language, and then I sent [the bill] off to the sponsors. We collected 180 sponsors. A lot of those sponsors were Lieutenant Governors, Senators, former Senators, Sarah Palin, and a bunch of great people who were very committed to getting rid of ranked-choice voting.

AMAC Action: You started all of this from scratch, right?

Phil: Correct. And there were no big non-profits involved at this time. It was just me and two or three other people.

AMAC Action: How do you set out to get those thousands and thousands of signatures necessary to get this on the ballot?

Phil: I had worked on campaigns previously, but nothing this large and nothing this extensive. So, I had a very specific window. We went and got Alaska maps and put them up on the walls all over the place.

I had four or five of them in my office, and then I started writing sticky notes with people that could be in charge of a particular area. I just put sticky notes on numbers, and then I started making calls to people and asking them for their support and setting up meetings for me to go and speak at their group meetings.

I drove to Kenai and Homer and Fairbanks, and I flew to Ketchikan and Sitka and Juneau. This is a huge state, by land area, it’s the largest state in the country. There’s another caveat to Alaska’s elections that make this state particularly difficult to do petitions. In 2007, the legislature changed the rules from where it used to be just a minimum signature requirement.

Now, it’s a minimum plus 7 percent of the most recent election from at least 30 or 40 house districts. That means you literally must travel the entire state to get that project completed. We were the first citizen-run initiative since they put the new rules in place that actually did this successfully.

I used signing locations and signing events as a way to draw crowds in versus just standing in front of a grocery store. It’s a much more effective solution than what other people have done. And there’s a couple reasons why.

I would put out a blast saying we can be in a particular location. We sent that in a newsletter in text messages, and we sent that out in digital advertising. And then we would follow up with the radio, just me getting on the radio and telling people I’m going to be at a location. I picked popular locations that most people in the area would know.

And then I would set up signature books from early in the morning till late in the afternoon, and we would have hundreds of people show up. These people were obviously motivated, they took [time] out of their day to drive to this location to sign the petition.

 I took it one step further and I had stacks of petition books with me and every time someone came in, I would ask him if they would be willing to go and get signatures. Most were more than happy to take a petition book.

And that right there is how we did it. This [was] pure grassroots, self-funded advocacy.  

AMAC Action: What was the minimum requirement of signatures and how many did you end up with?

Phil: We needed 26, 000 and we got 43,000. And it’s certified, it’s on the ballot, it’s all set to go. It’ll be on the ballot November 5th. It’ll be vote “yes” to repeal ranked-choice voting from the state. [Hopefully] we’ll be the first state in the country to get rid of rank choice voting.

AMAC Action: Are you forecasting a victory?

Phil: I’m estimating we will get it repealed [with] 55% or 58% [of the vote].

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23 days ago

Let’s hope the people in Alaska are smart enough to vote “YES” to repeal this type of voting. What a terrible idea “RCF” is. Don’t want it in my state (SC).

22 days ago

RCV is nothing more than the party in power to put their people into office. It is so confusing no one knows how it works or even able to explain it so that every person understands it. Not even the one explaining it to you. Another way to control the election. You might vote for the candidate you think will do a better job for your state and community. Then it comes down who do you like and you rank that and the most qualified doesn’t get in but the most popular. Isn’t that the way with all the cabinetmembers? None are qualified but they shatter the glass ceiling or DEI. Just like the election in 2020. The fraud that was done at that time will be done again. Soros will see to it. That election was bought and paid for by Soros and Silicon Valley and this year is no exception. There are not millions of dollars spent on this election but billions by the dems alone. I wish Phil good luck and hope that RCV is defeated in Alaska. But it takes a big grassroots effort to get it eliminated. And not every state has a Phil to put this together. And that is what the dems rely on. RCV is like the Sanctuary state program. As long as you have a handful of migrants everyone is gung-ho till they are overrun and the migrants are the majority in their sanctuary cities or state. RCV will go in the same direction.

21 days ago

If they’re dumb enough to keep electing murkowski I doubt if they’re smart enough to get rid of RCV

George Ruben Rivera Jr
George Ruben Rivera Jr
21 days ago

RCV reminds me of all the brouhaha surrounding the “New Math” efforts of a few years ago that created mathematically illiterate students!

Philip Seth Hammersley
Philip Seth Hammersley
21 days ago

GREAT! Then maybe they can get rid of their RINO woman senator, who votes with the DIMMs. It was HER allies that put RCV in to start with because she can’t win a normal GOP primary!

21 days ago

This ranked choice voting plot eliminated voting laws such as a republican primary. If more than one republican is on the ballot and each has support, a republican will not be elected. We are a majority. What a clever way to get rid of republicans, but it should be illegal. We object.
I like a comment I just heard: the 2024 election will be “Christianity Visibility Day.”

Alan Daniel
Alan Daniel
21 days ago

Ranked Choice voting is the perfect system for cheating. It is hard to ascertain who wins in the best of circumstances. Have an advocate try to explain it and you will quickly see the horrible confusion that results. The net result of this system will soon exclude the Republican candidates from the ballot altogether. That, I think, is the goal. In California it was definitely the goal. The Democrats are using every opportunity to twist the truth, the law, our history, and political power to destroy our Constitution and anyone who might oppose them. They are good and conservatives are evil. Any act is fair and reasonable when opposing evil according to the liberals and Wokes.
There was no reason to change our 200 plus year old voting system. So why change it? Why do only liberals push for it? Because the change benefits the liberals, the Woke, and Red China. Who benefits from confusion? Crooks and political hucksters bent on ruining fairness. The reasons given for the change are outright lies and subterfuge. The historic voting system was tried and shown to be true. Changing it is an act of treason. If I had plenary authority I would ban the practice. AD2

20 days ago

And the question is: “what can I do, I’m just one person?” And the answer, America, is We The People… Stand Up, Show Up, Speak Up!! Phil was “just one person” but did exactly that and soon his 1 became 2 who became 4, then 8

Joel Strabala
Joel Strabala
21 days ago

I live in Arizona, This is exactly what is special interests are trying to do in Arizona in the 2024 General Election. The Make Elections Fair PAC, funded and supported by Sarah Smallhouse, of the Burr-Brown family fortune, in cohoots with a small group of in-state and out-of-state wealthy sponsors, have already collected more than $5 million in funds, are trying change the Arizona election process in the same way as it was done in Alaska, Their goal is to add Alaska style Ranked Choice Voting and California style Jungle Primaries language to the Arizona Constitution. These anti-American activists need more than 383,000 signatures to add a deceptive and misleading “Make Elections Fair” Ballot Initiative to the Arizona 2024 General Election and then get voters to approve it. Note, this is happening in several other states. My recommendation, to stop this madness, is to “DECLINE TO SIGN” the Arizona “Make Elections Fair” Ballot Initiative!

22 days ago

I live in Alaska. I love ranked choice voting. I can’t wait to vote NO in November. Fundamentally, we have always had a form of RCV. But back then, it was called a special runoff election when no candidate had a majority. Today, we are smarter and have RCV. If a candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, they win, just like the old way. But now, if no one gets 50%, then the voter’s second choice kicks in (just like in a runoff). This makes way more sense to me.

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