Editor’s note: This is the third in our series of questions about ranked choice voting, which is part of the new voting methodology brought to Alaska by Ballot Measure 2 via Alaskans for Better Elections. Voters continue to ask questions about how to understand the general election ballot, which they will face for the first time on the reverse side of the Aug. 16 primary ballot. The special general election question will determine who fills out the remainder of Congressman Don Young’s term in office. At the end, you can find previous editions of this series and get more of your questions answered by adding questions in the comment section.
Our answers are given by election expert Bernadette Wilson, of Americans for Prosperity Alaska.
Question: What if I vote for the same person for my first, second, third choice on the ranked choice special general election ballot? Will my ballot be spoiled?
Bernadette Wilson: Voting for the same person as your first, second, third, and potentially fourth choice is essentially the same as only voting for one candidate, one time. It does not help your candidate any more than if you voted for them once. It also doesn’t hurt your candidate’s chance.
During the ballot counting process, what would force the counting of your second choice, would be the fact that your first choice had the least amount of votes and had already been cut from the ballot counting process.
Therefore, if we go to your second choice and it’s the same as your first choice, who has already been cut, then there is no place for your second choice to go, so the ballot would then be eliminated, because that candidate is no longer recognized as a viable candidate due to lack of votes.
The same methodology holds true for both your third and fourth choice. The only reason your third choice would be considered or counted would be because your first choice candidate has already been eliminated due to lack of votes. If counting gets to your third or fourth choice, and it’s the same as your first choice, who has already been eliminated, then again there’s no place for the vote to go and the ballot would not be valid.
If someone’s concern is that they do not feel comfortable leaving any of their ballot blank, then they could vote for the same person as all of their choices simply to give them peace of mind that no one else was filling in ovals before the vote is tabulated.