August 19, 2014 election results: Outcome of Alaska ballot measure election still up in the air

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August 20, 2014

By Brittany Clingen

Alaska

Nearly 24 hours after polls closed for the August 19 primary election, voters in Alaska still are not certain whether the contentious Ballot Measure 1 was approved or defeated. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, the election results are still too close to call due to outstanding absentee and early voting ballots, though it appears the state's voters have opted to reject the measure, with about 52 percent voting "no." Those hoping for a "yes" vote on the measure were at first optimistic, as initial returns showed support for the measure leading. However, the early hours of August 20 painted a different picture, one that is looking more and more like the final result: Ballot Measure 1 being defeated by a slim margin of approximately five percent.[1]

The measure, a veto referendum, sought to repeal Senate Bill 21, which was approved by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Sean Parnell (R) last year. The bill implemented a new taxation system, known as the More Alaska Production Act (MAPA), for companies extracting oil in the state. MAPA replaced the former tax structure, Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share (ACES), which was ushered in under former governor Sarah Palin (R) in 2007. Those who supported a "yes" vote on Ballot Measure 1 hoped to repeal SB 21, as they felt it was a "giveaway" for oil companies, with little to no upside for Alaskans. Opponents of Ballot Measure 1 wanted to keep MAPA in place and fought for a "no" vote on the measure, believing the tax breaks were necessary to incentivize oil companies to continue drilling in the state.[2][3]

Gov. Parnell, an ardent supporter of SB 21 who opposed Ballot Measure 1, spoke about the apparent outcome of the election, saying, “I think it [MAPA] ought to be given time to work, and the testimony was it will be about three to five years, and I think some of the voters as well who weighed in on the ‘no’ side ... we’re willing to say ‘Let’s give this a chance.’ We saw the production decline under ACES, and it’s time to give another vehicle a chance.”[4] Though the measure now appears poised for defeat, supporters are encouraged by the narrow margin, especially in light of how much money was poured into the opposition campaign versus the supporting one. "I think it's very close, but very exciting, with the millions spent by the oil companies," said Malcolm Roberts, a member of the Yes on 1 steering committee.[1] The opposing groups raised over $14.2 million, while supporters collected just over $487,000.[5]

Stay tuned to this page for updates and final results.

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