Sunday, March 31, 2019

Alaska Democrats Plan on April 4 Party-Run Primary

On Saturday, March 30, the Alaska Democratic Party released for public comment the party's draft delegate selection plan for the 2020 cycle. And in it were details from yet another traditionally caucus state laying the groundwork for a party-run primary.

Yes, the caucuses will remain as the primary means through which delegates will be selected, but the allocation process will shift from hinging on the results of precinct caucuses to a party-run primary that will take place in at least nine locations across the state between 10am and 2pm on Saturday, April 4. No, a four hour voting window in just nine (to start) locations does not come across as adequate in a state as geographically large as Alaska, but Democrats in the Last Frontier have planned for that. In addition to the in-person voting on the April 4 primary day, Alaska Democrats will also have the option voting absentee by mail or electronically (in a system that remains undetermined). That window for alternate forms of voting will stretch from March 3 (Super Tuesday) through March 24.

  • The Alaska draft plan calls for a ranked choice system of voting, elements of which have appeared in other formerly caucus states (Hawaii, Iowa and Nevada). 
  • The Alaska primary will for the second cycle in a row coincide with the contest in Hawaii. Although both are positioned after the fourth Tuesday in March, the pair alone does not qualify for a regional cluster bonus (15 percent added to the base delegation). Four years ago when Washington state Democrats joined the pair, the collective trio qualified for that bonus. Unless another partner joins the effort -- Oregon comes to mind (but is unlikely) as do the Pacific territories -- then Alaska and Hawaii would fall short of a 15 percent clustering bonus, but would maintain a 10 percent timing bonus for the April date of their contests.
Alaska now joins Hawaii and North Dakota as non-carve-out and traditionally caucus states that have moved in the direction of party-run primaries as means of allocating delegates. The only states that have attempted so far to maintain the traditional caucus set up as a part of the allocation process are Iowa and Nevada. And one can hypothesize that such a move is a clear enough nod to the New Hampshire primary that both states' contests bookend. The other caucus states have no similar conflict.

The Alaska party-run primary date has been added to the 2020 FHQ presidential primary calendar.

2/11/19: Iowa Democrats Release Draft Delegate Selection Plan for 2020

3/13/19: North Dakota Democrats Plan to Hold March 10 Firehouse Caucuses

3/21/19: Nevada Democrats Release Draft Delegate Selection Plan

3/26/19: Hawaii Democrats Aim for an April Party-Run Primary in Lieu of Caucuses

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