In November, ballots won’t be fully tabulated until 10 days before governor is sworn in



The new election system approved by voters in 2020, known as Ballot Measure 2, has created a system that may lead to further distrust in the election, if counting and reporting of the numbers is not handled carefully, the state’s own director of the Division of Elections implied during a Senate hearing on Tuesday.

Election Director Gail Fenumiai, a veteran manager of many elections in Alaska, told the Senate State Affairs Committee last week that the division will release results of the ranked choice voting general election in just two stages — once on Election Night, Nov. 8, when all the ballots received at that point will have their first choice candidates counted — and then no more results will be released until the deadline has passed for mail-in and absentee ballots, which is Nov. 23.

That is a full two weeks after the election, and unlike with normal elections, where results are updated daily, with Ranked Choice Voting, the public won’t be able to see a trend, and many of the initial results may flip.

Fenumiai said that if her office released updated results every day between Nov. 8 and Nov. 23, the results could vary so widely that it could lead to mistrust in the counting process.

The counting process for ranked choice voting is done by a computer system with an algorithm, or computer rules that are internal to the counting software. Those voters whose first choice candidate was not successful in reaching the majority of votes will have that vote crossed off and their second choice vote will move up to be their first choice vote.

Watch Elections Director Gail Fenumiai explain the risk involved with releasing tallies daily at this link.

Sen. Mia Costello said that the problem is structural with the way Ranked Choice Voting is designed.

“You really can’t go beyond the first round [in counting] until you have every single ballot because you have to know if somebody is the outright winner. So it seems in this age of technology and modernization and progressive way to vote with ranked choice voting what we find is that we are just adding more time before the voters actually know the results of the election,” said Costello at the end of Fenumiai’s presentation. “I understand that now. If we are going to allow ballots to appear 15 days after the election, then we can’t progress past round one until all of those are counted, because you could already have a winner that is just out there in the mail. There are people serving in this Legislature who have won elections by a coin toss.”

Watch Sen. Costello’s comments at this YouTube link.

After an hour and a half of discussion in Senate State Affairs, it was clear that lawmakers have a hard time understanding Ranked Choice Voting and explaining it. Many suspect the public will have difficulty as well.

Sen. Scott Kawasaki, however, underscored the need for the Division to educate the public on how to vote with the new system, so they can “vote for us.”

The Fairbanks Democrat emphasized that Ranked Choice Voting is now the law of the land and its merits should not be debated any further, but rather lawmakers should focus on getting the people comfortable with it.

Watch Sen. Scott Kawasaki talk about how the focus should be on getting the public comfortable with Ranked Choice Voting here.

Sen. Mike Shower, who chairs the committee, said that the people who will be most likely disenfranchised by the new system are Democratic voters, those who are elderly, those who do not have English as their first language, and those who have disabilities. That’s because their ballots are most likely to be “exhausted” for any number of reasons, but primarily because they may not understand how Ranked Choice Voting works and how to correctly mark a ranked choice ballot. Some voters will not necessarily have time under the new system to fix a ballot they’ve made an error on, such as if they mistakenly voted for two people as their first choice.

Other interesting aspects of the new voting system:

  • Write-ins are not allowed in the primary.
  • If there are only four people in a race in the primary, all will advance to the general election ballot, where Ranked Choice Voting takes place.
  • The order of where candidates are seen on the ballot will be random.
  • Write-in candidates must file with the Division of Elections to be qualified.
  • There appears to be a clear advantage to going to the polls in person, rather than voting by mail, so officials can give voters a new ballot to mark if they make a mistake. But the ballot they will be handed is likely to have the names of the candidates in a different order.
  • Hand counts won’t happen with Ranked Choice Voting because it is too complicated.
  • On Election Night, only first vote candidates will be counted and announced.
  • Ranked Choice Voting requires centralized tabulation.
  • Votes can continue to arrive at the Division of Elections up to 15 days after the election.
  • The final tabulation on Nov. 23 should go quickly since it is all done by computer algorithm. That is one day before Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24.
  • The election will not be certified until Nov. 29.
  • Dec. 2 is the deadline for requesting a recount for the governor and lieutenant governor’s race. Dec. 4 is the deadline for requesting a recount for all other races.
  • The governor, by order of the Alaska Constitution, will be sworn in on Dec. 5, just six days after the election is certified, and three days after a recount challenge can be filed.
  • The new governor won’t know he or she is governor until the last minute and won’t have time to start transitioning into office, preparing a budget for the Dec. 15 deadline, and assembling a cabinet.

Shower said that national studies prove that poor people are disenfranchised by the system that is used by the State of Maine and the City of San Francisco.

Shower said that a Princeton professor showed that the average disenfranchise rate is 11 percent of the vote, which means of 400,000 voting Alaskans, more than 40,000 are likely to have their ballots tossed. But as much as 20 percent of the ballots could be marked invalid.

According to the Princeton report by Nolan McCarty, Ph.D., Professor of Politics and Public Affairs at Princeton University:

  1. RCV resulted in a substantially lower “full participation” rate in Maine in 2018 as compared to plurality and runoff systems, where “full participation” means casting a ballot that could not be exhausted and thus is guaranteed to count toward the final outcome. This is particularly true in jurisdictions like Maine with more elderly and less- educated voters.
  2. These results, as well as the high number of ballots cast that lack any clear rational explanation, demonstrate that the low “full participation” rate in Maine cannot be explained by deliberate voter choice alone. Indeed, the results demonstrate that voter confusion causes many voters not to fully participate. The inherent complexities of the system are preventing voters from fully participating and thus effectively disenfranchising large numbers of voters.
  3. The purported benefits of RCV have not manifested in jurisdictions where RCV has been utilized over long periods of time.

“As I outline in my report, an RCV system comes with a significant number of vices, many of which manifested themselves in the 2018 Maine elections. Chief among them is that the system provides many significant impediments to full participation of the voters who choose to cast ballots,” McCarty wrote.

“Central to this issue is the phenomenon of exhausted ballots. In an RCV election, ballots may become unusable in later rounds of tabulation when the voter has failed to rank any of the candidates that remain in contention. When such a ballot is cast aside after the first round of voting for this reason, it is said to be exhausted, and it is no longer counted for purposes of determining the ‘majority’ winner. The academic literature and the analyses in my report demonstrate that ballot exhaustion is pervasive in RCV elections, sometimes leading to the discarding of over 20% of the ballots during the final round of tabulation. It also appears to be persistent, as rates of exhaustion do not decline over time. Jurisdictions that have used RCV for decades suffer from ballot exhaustion at similar rates as new adopters of the voting system,” McCarty wrote.

The Princeton study is found here:


  1. I consider myself to be a somewhat intelligent individual but the more I hear about rank choice voting and the more it is explained the less I know and trust about it. And as a Conservative I really doubt I will be able to trust what the people in charge will tell me.

    • What the people thought they were voting for was to eliminate dark money, and who opposes that, right? That’s what the proponents of Prop 2 used to fool us into voting for this scheme which was hidden in the details, on purpose. And our supreme court let it go through on the ballot as a single issue. It’s obvious which part was important and should have been voted on separately in a fair election. We got screwed.

  2. The Division of Elections sent a postcard detailing rank choice voting. It appears that a voter can vote all five choices for the same candidate.

    • Yeah, you can. But if that candidate doesn’t make the top 4, those votes are ALL discarded.

      Ranked choice is a subtraction problem, not an addition problem. When a candidate doesn’t make the cut in the automatic runoff, all their votes are discarded and the new tally is computed by the remaining total MINUS the discarded votes. The denominator keeps shrinking.

      One of the things that it does is when you do a bullet vote – single vote for single candidate – if that candidate doesn’t make the runoff, it is the functional equivalent of applying half of your vote to each remaining candidate. This has led to some bizarre outcomes in other locales. Cheers –

    • You can, but the only vote that will be counted on the ballot will be for the highest ranking vote – after that, that ballot becomes “exhausted”. No disrespect to Gail F – who of any of our bureaucrats is one of the finest – but this system is ripe for fraud. Computers can be hacked, ballots can be fraudulently filed; and the longer a delay there is in counting and publishing the results, the more time exists for fraudulent activity to take place. It is truly “BM2” and “Rank Choice” Voting. I cannot believe a majority of Alaskan voters fell for this fantasy. NO ONE likes RCV – and both major parties believe RCV was designed by the other side to confuse and disenfranchise their voters.

    • That IS the BIGGEST misunderstanding..If you vote all five and that person is eliminated on the first round or even second, you lost all your votes. I attended in early December, via Zoom discussion of this carzy voting..

      Yes, it was presented by a Democractic grp, but I signed up..

      Best sign up and listen to “THEIR” own game and use the information to vote.

      The group is ‘ I recognized some of “our Eagle River” representatives listed that was attending that was on the list of attendies that Zoom has on the side. You had to sign up. I understand there were 3 parts to this, but I never got anymore information for Part 2 and 3..

  3. Ever since I read the voters info on RCV in the election book I’ve told everyone I could this system essentially prohibits hand counting. It’s all done inside computers where you & I can’t see it. This in a time of voter mistrust. This is unbelievable.

    I hope sitting legislators will put the removal of this atrocity at the top of their list once 2 years is up. Otherwise we’ll need an expensive, time consuming citizen initiative.

    One legislator said it would be unlikely legislators would move to remove this law on their own because the legislature does not like to strike down the will of the people since it was imposed by initiative.

    Catch 22

    • I agree with you on all points, Dave.
      My mistrust and suspicion of Rank Choice Voting just continues to grow, not the least reason for that being that recounts are effectively impossible, due to the nature of the ‘algorithm’ that actually decides the winner, in a completely UN-transparent manner.
      Anyone advocating for this boondoggle of a Rube Goldberg voting system is implicitly advocating for voter mistrust, voting abuse, and voting corruption and fraud.

      • Well if you saw who funded this initiative (think soros and colleagues) you would know that corruption and fraud were the outcomes they are looking for.

    • Dave, I always thought that if you need an advanced mathematics degree to find out who won, you are in trouble. This has never been a transparent system and distrust is built in. When you can’t hand count ballots and most people do not understand the complicated way to reach a result, there is no trust in the system. To furthermore have to wait until ALL ballots are in, to even start counting/tabulating and not announcing the winner until a few days before the winner is supposed to take over, creates built in chaos, that seems intentional to me.

    • Why does the legislature have to wait two years? Doesn’t our state constitution say that the legislature is in charge of election law? I think ranked choice voting should be thrown out now. I don’t believe that it truly is the “will of the people.”

      Years ago I think we voted to move the capital to the road system, didn’t we? Yet, it never happened. Why is this vote more sacred?

      I’m not convinced that Alaskans actually passed Ballot Measure 2. I know zero people who voted for it. With all the mail-in ballots and the court stating that signatures were not required, I want proof that the results were honest. I certainly don’t trust the method Suzanne outlined above. No way.

  4. Oh brother!! Why would anyone vote for this new monkey business? It becomes more confusing as they continue. Can this be undone?

  5. There is no way we voted for this trash ballot measure. This just confirms why we need an immediate audit of our elections. I bet with a close look we did not vote for this rank steal ballot.

  6. To those that voted for this initiative, thanks a lot for making a simple act of voting an exercise in futility. Don’t worry, no hand counts by humans needed, the HAL 9000 will take care of everything. We know that computers and programs never make a mistake, never corrupt files and can’t be hacked.

  7. When we vote to open the constitution, we can remove this unconstitutional system. Vote yes for a constitutional convention, and fix the cheating judiciary, put in place term limits and protect the people from big government overreach by placing the PFD rolling average earnings in the constitution to protect it from Governmental OverReach and Corporate takeovers. We need to be represented not ruled over no matter how flattery and flowery the argument is.

  8. I was led to believe by supporters of ballot measure 2 that I could vote for whoever I wanted to, but now I can’t even write in a candidate that I prefer over those listed.
    Is the purpose of announcing the candidate in first place on election night so that there is a known number of votes that need to be sent in by November 23 in order to reach or keep someone from reaching the 50% mark?
    This system is designed to disenfranchise voters and sow confusion.

    • Here is elections director on that for general election: “And voters would actually have a fifth choice, according to the election directors, who said there’ll be a fifth space on the ballot for write-in votes because the ballot measure did not repeal write-ins in the general election.”

  9. If the judge that felt two voters being disenfranchised for lack of witness signatures was enough to change the law, one has to wonder how he would rule on this voting mess.

  10. “Hand counts won’t happen with Ranked Choice Voting because it is too complicated.”

    In other words, Dominion has free reign to install the candidates of their choice

  11. As I recall RCV was hidden in the ballot measure below “stop dark money”. Many people were voting against dark money influencing elections and didn’t pay attention to the RCV particulars. A very complicated and misleading measure that should have been tossed by election officials. The irony is that the measure was financed by dark money.

    • They tried to toss it. It went to court and an activist judge said it was constitutional when it was not. Then our apparently feckless AG just did nothing. There was a lawsuit at one point but never heard what happened with that.

  12. * No more party primaries
    * No write-ins
    * No hand counting
    * Vote counting is centralized
    * Computers handle the ranked-choice process
    * Up to 20% exhausted ballots

    What the hell have we done, Alaska?

    • Not sure we did anything. No politician, media person, or bureaucrat, seems interested in looking into what goes on in any of the machines we bought from Dominion; they are fine just taking the companies word for it. So here we are. Left with a bill no one understands, no one says they voted for, in an election, no one wants to look into. Seems odd, to say the least.

    • We didn’t do it, they pushed it over the finish line through voter fraud. Alaska needs a full forensic audit of its elections. Mail in voting and voting machines are manipulating the vote count.

  13. Here are the facts,
    1. Measure 2 was supported by tens of millions of dollars that poured into the State from California and dark money organizations funded by George Soros. Alaskans did not support this measure financially!

    2. The measure was losing by a significant margin a couple of days after the election and suddenly grew to enough votes over night to pass. There were allot of confused Alaskans how this happened. My guess was voter fraud through mail-in-voting. Same thing that happened in Battleground States where President Brandon suddenly collected hundreds of thousands of votes and stole the election.

    3. This rigged system is using centralized voting machines that use a software algorithm to count the votes. This is a major red flag! This is how they flipped votes from Trump to Biden in 2020. Dominion and their affiliates use these computer algorithms to alter the count in the machines.

    Bottom line, if you want your vote to count, the machines, mail-in-voting and ranked choice voting must be summarily thrown out or there will be rampant voter fraud. This is why I will not vote for Dunleavy for governor because he has not addressed these issues which makes him part of the corrupt establishment in Alaska politics. Wake up Alaska, your voices and choices are under attack by the left. We must rise up and secure our freedom for future Alaskans. The choice is clear in 2022. Kelly Tsbaka & Chris Kurka. I’m not sure who the right choice is to replace Young but he needs to go. I’m voting for freedom and people that respect and defend the Constitution of the USA. I hope you will too! Defend your vote and anyone seeing wrongful acts this year need to step up and report fraud right away.

  14. If the governor and lt. governor actually did their jobs and made sure we have election integrity the people may more comfortable with the election results. But no, they decided to do nothing.

  15. Many of the concerns about ranked-choice voting posted here deserve serious consideration – no system is perfect and most can be improved. RCV can, of course, be dropped in the future if it doesn’t work out in the eyes of enough voters.

    That said, two points can be made: First, RCV is not a new or untested voting system. It has been used for years in places both in this country and elsewhere. And in my opinion its track record has generally been good. Secondly, concerning “exhausted ballots”: It’s certainly true that voters who do not take full advantage that RCV gives them to express their views – for example, only choosing their top choice and not ranking others – don’t have further influence if their top choice doesn’t win. That’s unfortunate, that’s not good – but it’s a choice they make, not a choice the system requires them to make. They are not unlike the many who choose not to vote at all – those folks also effectively “cast exhausted ballots.” And those “exhausted ballots” probably are considerably greater than the “exhausted ballots” of those who actually vote but only choose one candidate.

    Again, no system is perfect. Fortunately it doesn’t have to be perfect, only better than other options.

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