It may be more than two weeks before Alaska voters know who will be their (temporary) representative in Congress

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By SUZANNE DOWNING

One consequence of the new ranked choice voting system in Alaska is that voters will probably not know for at least 15 days who will be the winner of the congressional race. That’s because, by law, the absentee ballots and overseas ballots have 15 days to get back to the Division of Elections.

And it’s because ranked choice voting seizes up the system until those mailed-in ballots are in.

In a normal election, it would usually be obvious who is ahead and whether the votes yet to be counted would be enough to change the outcome. As the overseas votes trickle in, they add to the totals and the ratios between candidates become evermore clear.

But with the misnomered “instant runoff” of the ranked choice voting system, there’s a built in delay because of the second and third round of counting. There’s nothing instant about it.

After the first round of counting is done on Election Night, Aug. 16, Alaskans will probably not be able to know who is eliminated in the first round of counting among the three candidates: Mary Peltola-D, Nick Begich-R, or Sarah Palin-R. They’ll only have a sense of the outcome if the result on Election Night is overwhelmingly for one of the candidates, and if one of the candidates lags far, far behind. That is unlikely in the three-way election for the temporary seat in Congress, where Peltola, Begich, and Palin could all get a fairly equal number of votes.

After all the votes are in two weeks later, the candidate who comes in third will see his or her votes eliminated and, if voters have chosen someone in second place for that candidate, those second place votes will then move up. That process won’t happen for 15 days, when all the first place votes are all counted.

Ranked choice voting is, ultimately, a way of allowing people who vote for a losing candidate to have another chance at voting. Critics say this allows some voters to vote more than once, while voters who pick the winning candidate only get to vote once.

That has 14th Amendment problems of unequal protection for voters, but Alaskans have to cope with the lopsided voting system they approved with Ballot Measure 2 in 2020.

On Tuesday night, some of the 23,884 absentee ballots that were mailed to voters will still be in the wild, not yet received by Division of Elections. Absentee ballots, historically, have leaned Republican in Alaska.

The first-choice results will be reported Tuesday night. That will be the totals of ballots the Division will have, but election workers will need to go through all the absentee ballots one by one to make sure people did not vote twice — one with an absentee, and one in person. The process is tedious and even if completed quickly, the second round of counting cannot take place until the Division can determine which candidate gets eliminated first.

The ranked-choice results will be released between Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, and election certification is scheduled for Sept. 2. If there are court challenges or a candidate asks for a recount — and that has happened many times in Alaska — that could delay the swearing in of the temporary congressional representative. Alaska has never used the ranked choice system, and a recount of this type of system must be done by the same machines that counted it the first time. There is no practical way to recount ranked choice results by hand.

The front of the ballot is easier. It’s a pick-one primary for governor, U.S. senator, and 59 state House and Senate seats. Those results should be known fairly quickly on Election Night or on Wednesday, for some rural areas.

Occasionally in Alaska, races are close and the final results are delayed until more absentee ballots arrive. In 2006, the tie vote between Bryce Edgemon and Carl Moses had to be broken with a coin toss, which is how Edgmon came to serve in the House of Representatives.

40 COMMENTS

  1. My blood boils the more I research, Lisa and her oath breakers rank choice voting scheme. What is next Lisa and Susan collins make a voting company that puts dominion voting systems out of business?? Sara Kelly and good by Dan Sullivan is what the Doctor has ordered for Alaska. Now Alaskans listen to the Doctor here. GOOD CITIZENS beat evil oath breakers so help us GOD. Integrity now is the time citizens now.

  2. Our whole electoral process must be overhauled in the upcoming Constitutional Convention.

    You can fix this, Alaska. The power is on your hands. But you gotta show up and vote.

    • I predict you’re right. RCV was weaseled into the mix, as most did not understand it. If a vote on ballot measure two was held today, it would fail miserably. Most now know what a con it is.

    • And if Begich wins, what does that mean? Or if Tshibaka wins, does that make the result illigitimate?

      • Valid question.
        First of all, Tshibaka is running in the primary. One vote per seat. There is no winning at this point. However, I get your point.
        .
        What makes the results questionable are the number of oddities that are not investigated. If a district gets 100% or more voter turnout, I am going to need an explanation of why this is not fraud before I accept the results as valid. Same thing for one candidate’s lead suddenly disappearing after ballot counting stopped for the night. If a strongly partisan district suddenly votes en masse for the other party, I am going to ask about that as well.
        .
        The winner is not in question. How they won is.

  3. Add the write-in vote and counting procedure and this could take even longer. If everyone fills the oval and writes-in an certified write-in candidate then a date will need to be set just for counting write-in votes. In order to meet the write-in count threshold the aggregate of all votes cast for all write-in candidates must be the highest number of votes received by any candidate or have the second highest number of votes and be separated by less than the percentage necessary for a recount.

    There are currently six certified write-in candidates:
    Chris Bye, Registered Libertarian
    Robert Ornelas, American Independent Party
    Ernest Thomas, Registered Democrat
    Lady Donna “Lady Donna” Dutchess, Nonpartisan
    Sherry Strizak, Undeclared
    Tara Sweeney, Registered Republican

    Everyone should write-in one of these certified candidates, I will be writing-in Chris Bye.

    • If you want to get rid of this rank voting then highlighting it’s absurdity is the best way possible. Writing-in a certified candidate is the best way to do this in the first rank election.

  4. This system is bogus from the foundation up. An election should be decided and called within three days of voting. Delivery of mail ballots should not exceed three days of the election. Any election model that is adjudicated by algorithm and goes on for two weeks is suspect for all sorts of mischief. I believed this election model needs to be repealed at the earliest possible date.

  5. State law needs to be changed to require all mail-in, absentee ballots arrive by Election Day.
    If someone wants to vote absentee or by mail, good for them, but get to it early if you want your vote to count.
    Counting could then be completed on election day. There is no time for any losing candidate or party to find ballots to make a loser win.

  6. Fifteen more days to perpetrate fraud. But until next year, we’re stuck with it… Rank the Republicans, vote for no one else. I’m voting Nick, Kelly and the Tall Governor.

  7. This so much ball sheet, I am demotivated and feel like this is designed to make me not even bother to care about voting. We need the Constitutional convention and throw this RCV crap out, I am so mad at the blow torch I have stop listening to his show on my drive home, fraud, and frustration, why do we the people always get screwed by the China Walkers and the corrupt Murkowskis.

    • I’ve not stopped listening, but it’s no longer appointment radio.

      It’s funny to listen to how pissy he gets when someone (many) point out how much of a crap show this has been. Except when Suzanne comments on it and he goes very quiet.

      He touted this as a way to get more republican options. A blind man could see what was gonna happen. Sarah just put it on steroids.

  8. The Democrat/graveyard vote will probably swing the election in the second round. The question is whether Democrats/dead people will give their second votes to Palin or Begich.

  9. Oh, thank you Murkowski for this ludicrous unconstitutional system you have given our awesome state! You need to go away!!!

  10. I voted for Sarah Palin.

    I did not vote for the Democrat that will vote to ban semi automatic firearms- or the “Republican” that supported Berkowitz. So my rank choice vote only went to one person- Sarah.

    I did not vote for any of the US Senate candidates. Just did not trust any of them. (Don’t tell me you are a conservative when you billed Alaskans $81,000.00 to move here. BS on that wasteful nonsense Kelly.)

    In the end the legislature should end rank choice voting as they are allowed to do after two years (of voter passage.) It was a trick the Democrats came up with to keep conservatives from winning state wide elections in a conservative state.

    • And this is why we’ll get Peltola and Princess.

      You decided to let perfect be the enemy of good.

  11. I am old enough to remember when the average voter did not need to get educated on how to vote. Now, we have constant radio and TV ads telling us how to properly fill out a ballot.
    .
    Seriously, if your “improvement” to the voting scheme requires that much voter education, it is not an improvement.
    .
    And, waiting two weeks for absentee ballots? Look, I know the mail system is a bit slow, but if it takes to Sept. 1 to get your ballot to AK, you did not mail it before election day. End of story. (And, yes, I know the military post system can be slow sometimes, but it is never THAT slow.)

  12. The longer ballots are in the hands of election “officials” the greater the possibility of fraud, plain and simple. Our State of Alaska is in great peril right now and we have a Cowardly Lion as Governor who refuses to do anything about it.

  13. I RANKED THE RED, and Regret it. I should have gone straight Sarah, and let Mr.19% earn his votes instead munching off of Sarah..Nick is Murowski in sheep’s clothing. The Murowski Republicans (OIL) and the Knowles/Begich Democrats (BILLIONS FOR THE BUSH) formed an alliance to split Alaska’s wealth down middle. Sarah as a POPULIST wanted to see more money flow to individual Alaskan’s—Larger taxes on oil, bigger PFD Checks, $1500 Energy bonus as she was going out door.. Murowsk , Alaska Bush Leaders hated her for. It Instead of following the MONEY in Alaska politics follow the HATE.

  14. I am honestly incredulous as to why, for 80% of my lifetime, it was so easy to count in-person votes based upon a single day’s voting record so as to ascertain a winner of said race within one day’s time, unto a methodology of ‘improved’ voting methods that now takes two weeks or more to ascertain the same supposed outcome.

    That is as comparing simple addition to quadratic mathematical theory.

    One vote by one individual is equal to one vote by one individual.

    No more.

    No less.

    And should only be counted as such.

    Once ridiculous algorithms become involved, there exists no one individual, one vote formula, and all said votes are cheapened unto a degree that the algorithm becomes more important than the individual vote.

    That is not an election.

    That is a mathematical construct, having nothing to do within individual choice.

  15. My Ranking:

    1. Mary Peltola
    2 Sarah Palin
    3. Sh*t Sandwich
    4. Nick Begich

    (I hope the division of election official reading my ballot has a sense of humor… well, I thought it was funny at least.)

    • Since this election is likely to go to round #2, Palin is glad for your assistance.
      I voted straight red, no commie…. errr…. i mean democrat ranked.

      • I know you hope so. But I bet you didn’t consider that might be eating a sh*t sandwich if it goes to round three, leaving nothing on the table like that.

        Read those instructions more carefully next time! Haha!

      • Says the basket case who thinks wokeness and public bathroom policies are the pressing concerns of our time. Republicans are so lost. Lol.

  16. Senate Primary:
    I couldn’t vote for the Talking in Tongues carpetbagger.

    And I couldn’t vote for the Princess who voted to send me and my brothers to a Mideast snake pit that posed no threat to my beloved County, and killed & maimed a bunch of our Company.

    So I voted for Ms. Chagall – I mean Gungerstein. Why? Because I found a B movie where she does a nude scene. Better than the other two front-runners I’d say.

  17. It used to be easy…
    One man,one vote.
    That is the way I am gonna still do it.
    I do not have a second place winner.
    If my Candidate loses, I am beyond caring.

  18. Polls closed for over an hour.
    Nothing yet.
    And my polling place moved.
    25 years in the same place.
    I had to look it up on the computer.
    And, they provided felt pens in the voting booths.

  19. Having anyone actually re-present Alaska in California where they secretly meeting is an aftertthought. This is a movie industry I guess. I don’t think Congress is printing their minutes any more either. Hoodwinked or ripped off; I don’t care for this type of entertainment.

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