Results in Alaska's first RCV election are due today. Here's where to watch and what to expect.
Also, we've got some polling on what Alaskans think about the new system (they like it).
Happy results day, Alaska!
In this edition: Spare the refresh button, the Alaska Division of Elections will be putting on a livestream to announce the results. Will it be Democrat Mary Peltola with the final rose? Or will Republican Sarah Palin pull off the rare comeback victory? On paper, it seems like as good a situation as any for a comeback, one expert said, but that requires the candidate (Sarah Palin) to have actually taken advantage of the system (she didn’t). Also, we get a good look at voters’ attitudes about RCV that shows, surprise, a vast majority of voters found it “simple” and a majority larger than the one that approved the changes via a 2020 initiative likes the new system.
Current mood: 😬
How to catch the results
Today’s the day that the Alaska Division of Elections will finally tabulate the results from the special election for the U.S. House, the state’s first ever race conducted under the new open primary and ranked choice voting system approved by voters. We’ll be spared from having to hit refresh on our browsers all day with the Division’s announcement that they’ll be holding a livestream to conduct the RCV tabulation at 4 p.m. today on Facebook, which you will be able to see here. From the Division of Elections:
You do not need a Facebook account to view the livestream. Tabulation is happening at the Director’s Office in Juneau. Viewers will be able to see round by round tabulation and the final unofficial results. Results reports will not be available on the website at the exact moment tabulation happens. We have to generate and export the reports then upload them to the site. We will email media to let you know once they are published on our site.
There was a moment where the candidates Democrat Mary Peltola and Republicans Sarah Palin and Nick Begich would’ve shared stage for a forum at the same time as the results were being announced but that event—a forum by the Alaska Oil and Gas Association—has been shortened and they’ll be playing the stream in the ballroom.
As the race stands, Democrat Mary Peltola is in first place with 39.64% of the first-place votes to former Republican Gov. Sarah Palin’s 30.94% of the votes and Republican Nick Begich’s 27.84% of the vote. Under the RCV tabulation, the 1.57% of write-in votes will be the first to be redistributed according to voters’ later rankings followed by the Begich votes.
The race will come down to how those voters handled their later rankings and whether they ranked Palin, Peltola or simply left the ballot blank. Peltola’s big lead puts her in a good spot, but Begich voters could help push Palin over the finish line for what Rob Richie, the President and CEO of FairVote, said during a call with reporters on Monday would be a rare comeback victory.
“You don’t see comeback wins very often with ranked choice voting. In fact, if you look at all the ranked choice voting contests, about 500-plus, only 4% had a comeback win,” he said. “But when you do have a comeback win, it actually makes sense. There’s a fracture of a voting majority and the ranked choice ballot mechanism allows that fracturing to heal and for voters to get the outcome that most of them want.”
He said that would be the prime case here where two Republicans have a combined majority of the votes, but that it’ll come down to just how much the candidates took advantage of the ranked choice system. That kind of messaging, he said, not only directs a candidate’s voters to rank other candidates but invites other candidates’ voters to rank them second.
“It does mean the candidates have to make use of the opportunity,” he said. “It’s fascinating to see how it plays out here. The candidate who is seemingly best positioned to be helped by ranked choice voting, Sarah Palin, also said she didn’t rank.”
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The news comes as Alaskans for Better Elections, the independent advocacy group supporting the rollout, released polling data reviewing Alaskans’ thoughts on the new system. The main takeaways:
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