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| Rodger Painter | Alaska Beacon |

At the beginning of Alaska’s legislative session, many veteran lawmakers worried about the infusion of untested legislators. Yet in a sharp departure from recent sessions, both sides of the aisle were patting themselves on the back for what they had accomplished after adjourning.

With 20 new legislators, or one-third of the Senate and House, the older, more experienced lawmakers had legitimate concerns, but the newbies helped lead the way to compromise. Then there were former lawmakers who lost under the closed primary system of voting, but were re-elected under ranked choice voting and played crucial roles in the legislature. Senator Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, is a prime example.

A better choice

Ranked choice voting has finally allowed voters a better choice than the closed primary system. When the Republican party came up with an untested Tea Party politician to replace incumbent Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski because she didn’t always toe the party line, Murkowski subsequently ran a successful write-in campaign. She was only the second write-in candidate in a U.S. Senate race to do so. She now has a powerful voice in Washington, even though she is in the minority, because she is willing to cross party lines.

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