By the numbers: Modest turnout for ’22 general election, and Peltola comes up short compared to Don Young in ’20


Alaska’s 2022 general election saw a modest turnout of voters: Just 266,573 of Alaska’s 601,795 registered voters cast ballots, a 44.30% turnout.

Although Alaska’s voter rolls are oversubscribed, the final participation number for this year still ends up with 95,000 fewer ballots than were voted two years ago in the general election.

In the 2020 election, there was a presidency at stake, which typically brings out more voters. Some 361,400 of the then-595,647 registered Alaska voters cast ballots, or 60.67%. Also that year, the Division of Elections mailed ballots out to all Alaska senior citizen voters to help them avoid going to a polling place where they might contract Covid, a virus that has proven particularly hazardous to their age group.

The mailed-out ballots in 2020 may account, in part, for why 26% fewer voters participated in the election this year. Ballots were not automatically mailed; voters had to request absentee ballots, as they had before the Covid pandemic.

Rolling back to the last midterm election in 2018, Alaska had a nearly 50% turnout. About 285,000 voters cast ballots out of the 571,851 registered voters.

This year’s turnout was 6% smaller than in 2018 in actual numbers.

Were some voters turned off by the ranked-choice method, by the candidates, or by the general nastiness of politics in these times? In a state that has removed nearly all barriers to voting, with automatic registration now the law with Permanent Fund dividend applications and drivers license registration, and with early voting available three weeks prior to election day, voting has never been easier.

Yet, in a “no excuse” state, the turnout hasn’t blossomed either in raw numbers or percentage of registered voters.

In 2022, voters cast the most votes in the governor’s race: 263,296 voters chose a candidate in that contest. Mike Dunleavy and Nancy Dahlstrom received 132,392 votes, or 50.28% of the votes cast in the governor’s race. They won outright, without having to go through the ranked-choice voting machine.

Congresswoman Mary Peltola was the next top vote getter on Nov. 8. In the first round of counting (before candidates were eliminated and votes redistributed), Peltola received 128,329 votes.

Peltola’s voters (those who ranked her first) were far fewer than those who voted for Congressman Don Young in 2020, when he won with 192,126 total votes, over 50%. The final number for Peltola — with ranked-choice voting calculated — was 136,893, or 55% of the votes cast.

Even with adding in the second and third choices of voters who did not pick Peltola first, but who ranked her, she came up 55,233 votes short of what Congressman Young received in his final election.

But Peltola did better in every single House districts than presidential candidate Joe Biden did two years ago. Peltola, a Democrat, did 6% better this year in the Mat-Su Valley than Biden did in 2020. She also did 6% better than Biden did in Fairbanks North Star Borough and Ketchikan. In Juneau, Peltola did 8% better than Biden did two years ago. In Anchorage, she did 8% better than Biden.

The lowest turnout in the state this year was Senate Seat A in Southeast, (Sen. Bert Stedman), with a 30% turnout; Senate P in Fairbanks, (Sen.Scott Kawasaki) with a 33% turnout, followed by Senate Seat S in the Bethel area (Sen. Lyman Hoffman). Only 34.18% of voters in that district voted.

Highest turnout in the state was Anchorage’s Senate Seat E, (Sen.-elect Cathy Giessel), 55.06%, followed by Juneau’s Senate Seat B (Sen. Jesse Kiehl) 51.53%, and Eagle River’s Senate Seat L (Sen.-elect Kelly Merrick), 50.39%.

On Tuesday, Nov. 29, the 2022 election is set to be certified by the Division of Elections.


  1. Don’t like the election results? Blame yourselves, Alaska.

    People around the world wait hours in long lines to vote. Most Alaskans can’t be bothered, even when it comes to your door.

    • Most of alaskans don’t even know what is
      going on and they have
      no voting interest. This crowd say they don’t care or they don’t know anything about civics. If they did vote they’d vote for the more conservative candidates- Cause they like the money from their jobs and when they hear some outrageous event the left do or republicans do they are perplexed and unhappy. They just need to be awakened.

  2. Bad candidates
    Bad system
    Stupid political parties
    Voters scared of their own shadows.

    While I’m critical of those who don’t bother to vote, I can understand the motivations of those who look at the offerings and chose (emphasis chose) non participation.

    Last time I felt this dirty at the ballot box was the choice between McCain and Obama.

    • You missed the one thing that probably turned voters off is RCV. This new system has done more to hurt the turn out than anything in history. When you vote and your vote does not count because of RCV you are going to disenfranchise more voters I can guarantee that the next voting in 2024 the percentage of registered voter to those that vote will be even lower.

      • Re: “When you vote and your vote does not count because of RCV…”

        Could you please explain what you mean when you write that RCV prevents a person’s vote from counting or being counted? Many critics of RCV argue that it can ignore votes. For example, the support that Palin-first voters had for Begich over Peltola was not counted. Is this what you are referring to?

        I would suggest that the primary/general election system with plurality voting disenfranchises more voters than a top-four RCV system. They both have flaws, but the newer system is likely better.

        • “Many critics of RCV argue that it can ignore votes. For example, the support that Palin-first voters had for Begich over Peltola was not counted.”

          This of course is a feature not a bug. Counting all of a voter’s preferences at the same time *would* violate one-person-one-vote, and it would also motivate people to vote for just their first choice, because their votes for 2nd or lower choices could hurt their first choice’s chances. Your vote only counts for one candidate at a time, until that candidate is eliminated. The “ranking” in RCV is really a list of backup choices in case your more preferred choices get knocked out.

  3. “The mailed-out ballots in 2020 may account, in part, for why 26% fewer voters participated in the election this year. Ballots were not automatically mailed; voters had to request absentee ballots, as they had before the Covid pandemic.”
    Gee, when it takes effort to vote, the uninformed/unmotivated do not vote.
    Good. Glad to see it. Mail in voting is a great way to get useless candidates elected. I would rather see candidates I do not support elected, than see people who have ZERO motivation to vote, voting solely because a ballot showed up unrequested..

  4. Mass mail in creates more opportunity for fraud, so I’m glad it wasn’t done in this election. The 2020 election was a mess.

    I don’t believe we actually have 600,000 something voters in our state. Our rolls are overdue for a cleaning.

  5. A lot of people, especially those under 30, are just tuned out. I have several under 30 coworkers and reminded them to vote. We vote today? Who do I vote for? I told them the impact the governor has on our jobs and made a suggestion. I still don’t think any of them voted.

  6. Really, the main motivating factor for me this election was to vote against Murkowski and vote for the CC. There weren’t really any candidates on the ballot I could get excited about.

  7. I’m not sure 2018 is the best year to compare our recent vote to. Yes, it was a mid-term, but it was also a wave election. I’m certainly no election expert, but it seems to me that the exceptionally high motivation in 2018 could have resulted in exceptionally high turnout. I’m curious about how the numbers would stack up against the 2014 midterm. It’s probably public info, but I’m feeling lazy today.

  8. I again agree with the Masked Avenger. The apathy of voters in Alaska’s Muni and State elections is appalling. And we wonder why the left games a system ripe for the picking. Why not? What are we gonna do about it? Probably nothing.

  9. Perhaps if Donald Trump hadn’t turned off so many people, the results would have been different in the Senate race. Perhaps if Palin and Begich III had done more than attack each other and RCV, the results would have been different in the House race. Perhaps if conservatives quit hating on RCV and used it to their advantage, the outcome would have been different. Or perhaps most people–and definitely the majority of “independents”–weren’t tired of all the insults and bomb throwing, the results would have been different.

    Hard to compare anything from 2018, 2020, or 2022 to previous years when so many people got turned on or off by the bombastic and aggressive behavior of so many politicians. Some folks around here may get real excited to “own the libs” (I know so, I see it frequently in people who respond to my comments), but the vast majority of people would actually like a government that works for them, and that takes compromise and a lot of other traits that are lacking in so many of our elected leaders.

    • Howdy G. You won’t get one with this year’s PFD Check. Alaskan’s voted against it. Unions got all the money this year.—-They got THEIR PEOPLE. ELECTED

  10. With a state that has approx 723,000 residents and 621,000 registered voters – something stinks to high holy hell in Denmark.
    I’m supposed to believe that only 14% of Alaskans are children?
    Dominion voting machines – chicanery in the bush (im sure Nepotism Lisa was able to win a senatorial write-in campaign, the first and only time in American history) – ballot harvesting in our senior centers, combined with RCV – yeeaahhh – our elections are conducted with integrity?
    Corruption much…

  11. Oh God: Are we supposed to be using our brains for something besides attracting someone else’s breadwinners? How were we, the beautiful, supposed to know that? It was’t in the Zane Grey novels in the village…

  12. There was too much gamesmanship and acrimony in this election. Also, Walker was running against Dunleavy for four years with the assistance of his former (?) chief of staff, Scott Kendall and blogger Dermot Cole. So it was a surprise that Dunleavy won. Also, according to the certified results, the percentage was 50.29% instead of 50.28%. Perhaps the only people who really got out to vote were motivated by the harshness of the races. And now that the election is officially done unless there are vote recounts, it is time for people to begin to treat their fellow Alaskans like the valued human beings they are instead of democrats, republicans, or independents. Maybe we can start with mutual respect for all. Of course, Dermot still hasn’t gotten the message. And while we are at it, let’s get the voter rolls cleaned up. It’s overdue.

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