Ask Bernadette: Will my fourth vote ever count in ranked choice voting?


Editor’s note: This is the sixth 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 of this Q&A, you can find previous editions of this series and get more of your questions answered by posing questions in the comment section.

Our answers are given by election expert Bernadette Wilson, state director of Americans for Prosperity Alaska. While Wilson does not necessarily support the ranked choice voting system, she has studied it enough to become an expert.

Question: Will my fourth-place vote ever count?

Bernadette Wilson: This is both the easiest question and the most observant. No, your fourth place vote will never count.

Even with ranked choice voting, we will still ultimately get down to two remaining candidates. If you take the number of candidates in the race minus one, that will give you the number of your choices that could ultimately count.

For example, in the upcoming special general election for Congress on Aug. 16, there are three candidates in the race. In this particular race, your third choice will not count but your first two choices could potentially count.

As we have discussed before, your second choice would only count if your first choice candidate had been eliminated. If you vote for Candidate C for your first choice, but hardly anyone else does, that choice is eliminated and Candidate A and B are left in contention.

If we have already eliminated one candidate that means that we are already at two candidates. By the time we get to two remaining candidates someone will indeed have at least 50% plus one of the vote. So no matter who your third choice is, it will not count. One candidate has already been disqualified from the race, and your ballot will now reside with your second choice.

There will always be two final candidates in the final tally. The 50+1 threshold is always among the remaining ballots in that final count between two choices.

Watch Bernadette Wilson explain how ranked choice voting works at this link:

Previous questions:
Ask Bernadette: Ranked choice voting Q&A series
Ask Bernadette: What are the ramifications of voting for just one person on a ranked choice ballot?
Ask Bernadette: What if I vote for the same person for my first, second, third choice on the ballot?
Ask Bernadette: If I vote for more than one candidate, am I essentially splitting my vote on the ranked choice ballot?


  1. Thanks for your great series, Bernadette.
    Please, please, …..if you are a Conservative, do NOT rank Mary Peltola. This is what the Democrats are praying you will do. Do NOT.
    Rank either Nick Begich or Sarah Palin…. one or two. Leave Mary Peltola BLANK. Otherwise, you have capitulated into the fraud president Joe Biden’s commie machine.

  2. Bernadette: What happens if I decide to join the majority of eligible voters in Alaska and abstain from voting?

    I have not missed a vote since 1978 but to be honest, I’m on the cusp of calling it a waste of time….

  3. If you are dumb enoughto play this game, you deserve what you get.
    It is designed to steal from the ends and pay the middle.
    My advice:
    Vote for your favorite, and nobody else.
    The worst that could happen is that you could lose.
    Just like in the old days.
    And, we can live with an honest loss.
    For me, there is and will never be a #2 choice.
    If my #1 does not prevail…
    I am already beyond caring.

  4. Which might you preferr?
    An opportunist, or a RINO ??
    You can’t even tell the difference.
    They could change places…..
    If it made a difference, we wouldn’t be allowed to do it.
    —-George Carlin

  5. Only vote for Begich and Palin.
    #1 Begich
    #2 Palin
    #3 Begich
    #4 Palin
    That way you never give your vote to the Communist running in this election.

  6. You can also rank the certified write-in candidates Chris Bye (Libertarian), Robert Ornelas (Alaska Independence Party), and Erenst Thomas (Democrat).

  7. Actually there is a scenario where the fourth place vote counts – if someone were to wage a successful write-in campaign. That would add a fifth candidate to the list and set up a scenario if the write in candidate makes it to the final two that some voters fourth place votes would eventually end up being counted.

  8. Could it be explained why the majority of votes for the eliminated position go to your second choice? It appears that if your 1st choice does not win with 51% in the first round then the second place will be the winner.

  9. Hmmm…let us make this fallacy fun, shall we?

    As there are only three (3) candidates within the current ranked choice voting ballots, and one open spot for a ‘write in’ candidate, let us follow a percentage of value voting process within regard unto ranked choice.

    Each number one (1) choice and each ‘write in’ choice receives a tally of %100 as a singular choice vote.

    Each number two (2) choice receives a tally of %66.6 as a secondary choice vote.

    Each number three (3) choice receives a tally of %33.34 as a third-choice vote.

    Rather than move each vote of a lesser degree unto a ‘full’ vote, that is %100, as the current ranked choice proposal advocates, measure each within the percentage of what each is truly worth, that is, lesser than the previous choices in order.

    Have fun!

  10. RCV seems to be set up by politicians to steal the election. Why complicate a voting system to make it better ? That Just don’t make sense. What does make sense is they have more chances to play with the numbers and that’s what its designed to do. I will vote for one Candidate, if they don’t win, then oh well. I don’t play silly games.


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