Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is the most notable name on Alaska’s ballot to finish the rest of the late Rep. Don Young’s term, though her path to Congress is not guaranteed.
And the outcome of the race may not be known for a couple weeks.
Alaska is using ranked-choice voting for the first time. It enables voters to choose multiple candidates on the ballot and rank them in order of preference. Unless a candidate receives over 50% of the first-choice vote, the candidate with the fewest first-choice votes will be eliminated and voters’ second choices will be reallocated to the remaining candidates.
This process of elimination and redistribution continues until a candidate wins a majority – and may be delayed until absentee ballots are counted. Those ballots can be received until Aug. 26 — 10 days after Election Day.
Palin, Republican businessman Nick Begich and Democrat Mary Peltola are on the special-election ballot for Young’s seat. While Palin, in her first campaign since she was the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, was the top vote getter in the June primary for the seat, a Alaska Survey Research poll in July simulated the rounds of ranked-choice voting and found that Palin would be eliminated in the first round of reallocation.
Ivan Moore, a longtime Alaska pollster who conducted the Alaska Survey Research poll, said Peltola is likely to get the most first-choice votes because Begich and Palin are likely splitting the Republican vote.
He said Begich would likely win against Peltola after the reallocation of picks from voters who put Palin as their first choice, but that if Begich is eliminated first and his voters’ choices are split up, those votes would not exclusively go to Palin.
“Even faced with this evidence, Sarah Palin is still [treated] like the favorite to win. She’s not the favorite. She may well win, but she’s not the favorite to win,” Moore said.
Palin has been backed by former President Donald Trump, who held a rally in the state in July and has decried the ranked-choice voting system for helping Senator Lisa Murkowski, who has her own primary on Tuesday.
“She knew she couldn’t win a straight-up election, so she went to this ranked-choice crap,” Trump said of Murkowski.
In a statement as polls were closing in Alaska Tuesday, Palin bashed ranked choice voting, saying, “Today is the first test case of the crazy, convoluted, undesirable ranked-choice voting system, and to everyone who’s watching from Outside tonight, I say: Please, learn from Alaska’s mistake. Voters are confused and angry, and feel disenfranchised by this cockamamie system that makes it impossible to trust that your vote will even be counted the way you intended. We’ll keep fighting to equip Alaskans with the information they need to make sure their voices are heard amidst this Leftist-crafted system – no matter how hard the corrupt political establishment works to silence us.”