A nearly 9 point difference has opened up between candidates Mary Peltola and Sarah Palin for the temporary seat for Congress. The Bethel Native has nearly 40% of the votes in the Aug. 16 special general election to finish the term of Congressman Don Young.
Of 187,919 votes counted in this race thus far, Pelota now has 39.64%, Palin has 30.94%, and Nick Begich has 27.84%. Begich is staying 3 points behind Palin as the counting has continued and more absentee mail-in ballots are processed by the Division of Elections.
Peltola’s margin has increased over yesterday, when she had 39.25% out of the 180,194 ballots that had been counted.
Any valid ballots that were postmarked before midnight on Aug. 16 that arrive by Aug. 31 will be counted, with only a few more expected to trickle in over the weekend. The Division of Elections will then run the calculation for where the voters for Nick Begich wanted their second choice to go — Pelota, Palin, or nobody. To win, Palin has to get two votes for every one that Peltola gets from the Begich ballots.
Alaska voters approved this ranked choice ballot system in 2020 and this election is the first time it has been used. It is being widely criticized for being difficult to understand and for delaying the process for knowing who the winner is, since the ranked choice process will not take place until Aug. 31.
District 9, which is the South Anchorage hillside formerly made up of old District 28, had an over 50.9% voter turnout. Peltola received 45% of the vote from the South Anchorage hillside, with Begich getting 32% and Palin coming in at 20%.