Alaska Natives urged to drop political party affiliations

The Anchorage Daily NewsOctober 21, 2011 

Are you a registered Democrat? A Republican?

The board of directors for the Alaska Federation of Natives -- the nonprofit representing indigenous people in nearly 180 communities across the state -- recommends dropping your party affiliation. At least on paper.

A draft resolution proposed by the board at this week's convention at the Dena'ina Center in Anchorage calls on voters, and Alaska Native voters in particular, to switch their registrations to "undeclared."

Undeclared voters can vote for either a Democrat or a Republican in primary elections, the board argues, "and thereby vote for the candidates that most support their views and standings on the issues."

Former AFN President Byron Mallott said he supports the proposal, which would allow voters to participate in the closed Republican primaries which typically favor more conservative candidates.

"Very conservative ideologies scare the hell out of us, because of our circumstance," Mallott said, emphasizing that he was speaking for himself and not all Alaska Natives. "Because of the range of issues that affect us ... I hope it passes with a huge vote."

Delegates will vote on the proposed resolution and about 50 others on Saturday, the final day of the three-day annual convention. AFN resolutions are nonbinding but signal the collective will of the state's largest association of Alaska Natives.

One unofficial theme at this year's convention is a blooming recognition that efforts to re-elect Sen. Lisa Murkowski proved the Native vote and unrestricted Alaska Native corporation spending can sway an election.

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