In 2020, Alaskans voted to approve a new voting system for statewide elections. Starting this year, we will use a system that combines an open primary with ranked-choice voting. This means that the four candidates with the most support will advance to the general election, regardless of their political party. Voters will then rank candidates in order of their preference, from first to last.
In the special election, the ranked-choice voting system will be used for the first time on August 16th, 2022, to fill former Rep. Don Young’s seat in the House of Representatives. The open primary in June narrowed the field of primary candidates down to four: Sarah Palin, Nick Begich, Mary Peltola, and Al Gross, who recently dropped out of the race. At the same time, they rank candidates for the special election, voters will also choose one primary candidate to advance to the general election for the permanent House position.
After voters make their choices on August 16th, their first-place choices will be tallied. If no candidate gets over 50% of the votes in the first round, the least popular candidate will be eliminated, and the votes for them reassigned to their voters’ second-choice picks. This process will continue until one candidate has over half of the votes. While it is not required to rank all four (or, in this case, three) candidates, it is recommended because it means that your voice can be heard throughout the entire election, not just in the first round.
While ranked-choice voting is brand new in Alaska, it’s been used successfully in states and cities throughout the country, including for federal elections in Maine and recently in the election for New York City mayor. Ranked-choice voting is just as secure and effective as more traditional voting forms. The new system means that our votes will go further, and our preferences will still be counted even if our first-choice candidate doesn’t win.
Because the August 16th election is a General Election for the Special Primary, and a Primary Election for the Regularly scheduled election, it will be conducted in person at local polling places, unlike recent Anchorage Municipal elections and primaries. Anyone who wishes to vote by mail for any reason must request an absentee ballot at least ten days before election day and make sure that their ballot is postmarked on or before election day to be counted.
The Alaska Center Education Fund is putting on a series of events this summer to help Alaskans learn about, and practice ranked-choice voting before putting it into practice in August. Join us on July 19th from 6-8 p.m. at Fairview Lions Park for free dinner and ranked-choice voting fun or check out our website or social media for more information on our events for this summer!
Make a plan, register to vote, and get ready to ranked-choice vote!
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