Story last updated at 4:11 p.m. Thursday, July 25, 2002

Primary system defended
Alaskans confused about the state's new primary election system should consider a few facts before deciding whether they like it or not.

For too many years, Alaska's primary system let voters registered with any party vote for the candidate of any other party. That meant Libertarians could vote for Republicans or Greens could vote for Democrats. That's called a "blanket primary," and the U.S. Supreme Court said two years ago -- in a challenge brought by the California Democratic Party -- that it's not fair to allow voters of one party to pick an opposing party's candidates. This is only fair, if you think about it: Why should members of the Elks Lodge help select the Rotary Club's president?

Alaska now has a "classic primary" that lets voters registered with one party select who they want to carry their party's flag before all voters in the general election. It's clear this deprives no one of freedom of choice. Voters can choose to join a party by July 28 and vote in its August primary. Voters registered as "Undeclared" or "Nonpartisan" can vote in any one of the six party primaries. The only change in Alaska's August primary is that partisan voters can't participate in another party's primary. For example, Republican Moderate, Libertarian and Alaska Independence Party members cannot vote in the Republican primary.

The new system is fair and it's constitutional, and soon you'll wonder why it was ever any different.

Randy Ruedrich, chairman

Republican Party of Alaska

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