Randy Ruedrich: New ranked choice voting explained



Alaskans will soon encounter a new primary and general election process.   

No Alaskan Republican primary exists to select a Republican nominee for the general election ballot. Primary battles are gone.

The Republican candidates who advance to the general election ballot need to view each other as team members. If not, Alaska may elect Democrats.

The Aug. 16, 2022, Alaska primary process will forward up to four candidates to the November general election ballot. If six candidates are running for an Alaska State House seat, the four candidates receiving the most primary votes advance to the general election ballot.

Those four may be any combination of Republicans, Democrats, and other candidates. For instance, a Kenai State House primary could send four Republicans to the general election ballot. Similarly, a Juneau State House primary could send four Democrats to the general election ballot.

Key detail for Alaska primary voters:  Vote your conscience for your preferred primary primary candidate to get that candidate on the general election ballot. Think of the primary as a track meet’s qualifying heat. The top four primary vote-getters earn slots on the general election ballot.  

These four candidates advance to a general election with Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV).  Alaska voters may rank the four candidates from 1st to 4th. Initially, the 1st choice votes are tallied. 

If a candidate gets 50% +1 votes, Alaska has a winner, and the counting is done. If no candidate collects 50%+1 of the 1st choice votes, the 2nd choice votes come into play. Here’s how:

If your candidate finished fourth and you made no other selections, your ballot is exhausted and has no further impact in the election. That’s why each voter must select at least a 2nd choice candidate to stay in this RCV counting.   

The eliminated 4th place candidate’s ballots are reprocessed to count these voters’ 2nd choice votes. This second tabulation adds these 2nd choice votes to generate new tallies of the remaining three candidates. If a candidate has 50% + 1 votes after the second tabulation, Alaska has a winner, and the count is complete.   

Remember, ballots with no active remaining choices are gone from the tabulations. Only one conservative or moderate candidate in each race is the worst in your opinion. As an example, the 3rd Republican team member that you dislike is your 3rd choice. A Democrat is never your choice.

If no candidate has 50% + 1 votes after the second tabulation, the 3rd place candidate’s ballots are reprocessed to count these voters’ next remaining choice for the remaining two candidates.   

The State of Maine used a ranked choice voting system in 2018. Incumbent Republican Bruce Poliquin received 46.33% of the 1st choice votes. Democrat Jared Golden took 45.58% of 1st choice votes.  Two Independents had 8.08%. The 2nd Congressional District race was flipped in the Maine RCV counting process. When the 2nd choice votes for the Independents were counted, Democrat Jared Golden gathered 50.62% of the vote and Republican Poliquin lost with 49.38% of the vote. The Democrat won by 3,539 votes. 

Some 8,253 voters did not make a 2nd choice. These 8,253 missing votes should have recruited to support the Republican team.  

So remember, in the 2022 elections: Vote for your favorite candidate in the primary. Rank your conservative and moderate candidate team members on the general election ballot from first to last. A Democrat is never your choice.

Randy Ruedrich is president of Arctic E & P Advisors and former chairman of the Alaska Republican Party.


  1. Clear as mud for the older folk corralled in the Alaska Pioneers Home. I’m sure the hair-bun wearing them/their care attendants will help them fill the ballot in “correctly.”

    Then there are the “mail-in” requirements, this sleeve that certain way around, and placed in the return envelope, and don’t forget to sign the outside. Oh I’ve no stamp, “that’s OK, I’ll post it for you” says the them/their care assistant” thinking to themselves “this ones going in the trash.”

    It’d be really easy to disenfranchise any elderly person by saying, “just fill in your top choice, and leave the rest blank if you don’t like them.” Care assistants / DNC activists, rejoice!

    #fraudalert #yourrepublicanballotjustgotbinned

  2. In another state, this may be a decent approach for conservatives to follow.

    But it is well documented in this state that Democrats run Republican candidates, like Kelly Merrick, and they do so even in some of the most conservative parts of the state, like Eagle River.


    As an Alaskan voter, you cannot just “Vote Republican” in the general election.

    Voting team Republican, even if you get it “right” 75% of the time still puts Alaska in the toilet. The democrats have only needed three Republicans to jump ship in order to give complete control of the Alaska House of Representatives to Democrats. They have had at least three Republicans willing to do that for the last six years.

    Alaskans have elected a Republican majority each of the last six years. This year, they got it “right” with 86% of the time, but let 3 Democrat-supporting “Republicans” slip through (14% of the elected Republicans in the state house).

    That’s all the Democrats needed. Without realizing it, voters elected a Democrat majority. And they did so by voting for “Team Republican”.

    We must ask the voters to be more discriminating. And that will be all the more challenging without a Republican primary.

    Bottom line, vote for those you want to represent you in government, and don’t vote for those you don’t want to represent you. If you vote Kelly Merrick (R-Eagle River) as your 4th choice, you are still voting to give Democrats complete control of the legislature.

    • While dogmatically correct, this is a poor strategy when you run the math. Each vote has the potential to be counted three times. If your first and second place are eliminated and you only ranked two, your least favorite (4th choice) candidate would gain advantage by your vote being thrown out (reducing the denominator (total votes), increases the relative strength of the numerator (choice of candidate)). Rank all or rank three.

    • You are absolutely correct. I would like to see the Alaska Republican Party require a large cash only bond from any candidate who wants an R on their name. It would have to be surrendered to a charity on a vote of turncoat. Censorship is not effective, hit the lying SOB’s in the wallet. And not small change. And if they are true, they have nothing to worry about. This would give voters some comfort.

    • Don’t just focus on Kelly. We conservatives and Republicans need to be much better disciplines at the ballot box than we have been historically. Last Muni election, we lost 4, count ’em 4 School Board seats due to undervoting. Conservatives / Republicans voted en masse for Mayor, giving Bronson his victory. But they Did. Not. Vote. Down. Ballot. As a result, the Margo Bellamy backed candidates all won. Despite Bellamy’s efforts to recruit additional candidates to split the conservative / Republican vote (Marilyn Stewart, Marcus Sanders for instance), the undervote, the difference between votes for Mayor and votes for each School Board seat was larger than the margin of victory of the lefty candidate.

      If we’re gonna have any success at all, we MUST be more disciplined when we cast our ballots. Cheers –

    • With RINOS being Republican, you just list those those further down the list with the Democrates if you have to MAKE THE 4 CHOICES..If you don’t have the 4 choices filled, you loose your vote.

    • The Alaska Republican Party is a joke.
      Please name one, yourself included, who voted against the Per Diem protection act before even considering the PFD.

      Respectfully, I’m not sure you’re a good standard bearer for “Republicans don’t always do the right thing”

  3. “Some 8,253 voters did not make a 2nd choice” – and their votes weren’t counted.
    It seems to me these voters had their votes disenfranchised from voting in a runoff, which is what the proponents of ranked choice voting intend. A very deceitful result. Randy should also point out that filling in all 4 choices with the same person results in all being thrown out once that person is at the bottom of the list. We need to change this as soon as we can back to a runoff system. It was packaged with dark money used as the lead in their advertising during the election with no mention of ranked choice voting being included. Again, deceitful.

  4. Maine conservatives lament this absurd voting system, b/c it has allowed RINO Susan Collins to maintain her Senate seat. All Collins has to do is continue her increasingly leftward political shift. Democrats designed this system, and their lawyers have been behind the effort to bring about RCV in every state it had been implemented in. With the ability to influence children through the Department of Education, the Progressives coerced the US population into submitting to their ideology, and now they removed the electoral safeguard against mob rule (see: Democracy). To be blunt, the left brainwashed three generations of US citizens to the extent that there is a majority of Prog voters, then they made voting a popularity contest. I see no reason to participate in this anti-American system.

    • There is a fifth row for “write-in.” You can write in a name and rank it along with everything else, just as you would rank the other candidates

        • Yes, the new system allows you to cast a write in vote without throwing away your vote. Just vote the real candidate as your second choice

  5. Many times there simply is NO 2nd choice. I surely will NOT vote for Murkowski just because she claims to be a Republican. She isn’t even a RINO. She is a DEM all the way.

  6. Fraud just another way to screw the general public, what was wrong with the old system? , Dems could not win so they ran as republicans, Walker, Merkowski,Giesel, Stedman, the list goes on and on, so the change was pushed threw, it is difficult to influence a person to vote, now it will be possible, the founding fathers are doing flip flops in their graves , we are heading right down the toilet.

  7. Explaining to grown adults that the “new” way to vote which consists of number three to get number four out of fifth place and then vote for number two to produce your number one choice, sounds very much like a con job. Nobody voted for this, it was thrust upon us (and Maine) and then the mission was to convince us all that it was a “good” idea after the fact. Eesh.

  8. So!!!! That’s how RINO Lisa is going to get reelected!!! She’s gonna consult Collins on how to rig the election to retain her seat. I have to admit that it was pretty smart how she passed out the wrist bands to win the writ-in. Now she has a cohort on how to win an RCV election.

  9. Thank-you for the detailed explanation. There are some great visual explanations on you tube, unfortunately the elderly people that are confused the most about ranked choice voting typically do not have internet access. Help the elderly by visiting with your ipad, or laptop and showing them the graphical explanations on youtube

  10. Randy’s explanation is correct. The challenge for issue voters however, becomes more discerning at the general election.
    For example, if you are a “Right-To-Life” voter, you may have several choices in the primary, where you only have one vote, and clearly should vote for your favorite candidate.
    In the general you will have 4 votes ranking 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and write-in amongst 4 candidates. You clearly want your 1st choice to be your favorite candidate. There may be a second candidate who is also aligned with your issue, and they should get your second choice.
    You need to be particularly careful voting your second, third, and fourth choices. You have to be sure the candidate is aligned with your issue, and not an opponent or stealth opponent of your issue. You do not, IMO, want to fill in a third or 4th choice just to complete the ballot as you may then have voted for an individual opposed to your issue.
    Because there are going to be 4 candidates in every position, you will have quite the task, pre-election, getting to know and memorize who to vote for and who to leave off your ballot. Proponents of Rank-Choice voting are counting on many voters making a choice between candidates they don’t know. They want to harvest your ill-informed 2nd,c3rd, or 4th choice votes to get their candidate past 50%.
    When I do the math, it is much better to choose between two solid candidates who align with you on your key issues, and leave 3rd and 4th choices blank, in the general election.
    I also think education regarding the multi-choice ranked ballot is best accomplished after the primary.
    I think educating our conservative voters is extremely important, because, frankly, there isn’t anyone I see on the horizon with the ability to file and pass the legislation needed to correct the mess. If you hear someone claim they will, please ask to see their chit sheet with 32 signatures.

    • So, for those of us determined to replace Murkowski with a much more responsible and reliable person, our best strategy is to vote accordingly:
      1) Kelly T.
      2) Karl S.
      3) Sam L.
      4) Lisa (Daddy’s Little Princess)
      Is that how you see it?

  11. Dumbest thing ever. It’s all a front to get bad candidates elected. Everyone should have only 1 vote.

  12. I’m confused already. It would be good to give us a real scenario using actual names that will probably be on the ballot. Like Gov Dunleavy, Kurka, Pierce etc. to show how we can be effective at this nonsense game called ranked choice voting.

    • Let’s say Dunleavy, Pierce, Gara, and Walker make it to the general election for governor and we have 11 people voting.
      First place votes end with Dunleavy getting 4 votes, Pierce getting 2, Gara getting 4, and Walker getting 1. Walker gets dropped and the second place votes from those Walker voters now get counted in round two.
      Round 2 ends with Dunleavy having 4 votes, Pierce having 2, and Gara having 5. Pierce gets dropped and the second place votes from those Pierce voters now get counted in round 3.
      Round 3 ends with Dunleavy having 6 votes and Gara having 5, Dunleavy wins by having 50%+1. This simple scenario assumes that the Pierce voters chose Dunleavy as their second choice, had they not selected anyone as their second choice it would look like this:
      First place votes end with Dunleavy getting 4 votes, Pierce getting 2, Gara getting 4, and Walker getting 1. Walker gets dropped and the second place votes from those Walker voters now get counted in round two.
      Round 2 ends with Dunleavy having 4 votes, Pierce having 2, and Gara having 5. Pierce gets dropped and there are no second place votes from those Pierce voters.
      Round 3 gets counted with Dunleavy having 4 votes and Gara having 5, Gara wins by having 50%+1. Even though there were more right leaning voters the results favor the left because those on the right didn’t make a second choice. Rank voting is designed as a game that intentionally disenfranchises voter, knowing how to play the stupid game is critical to winning, if you choose not to play the game then you’ve already lost and that is by design.

      • Bottom line: if we only have one truly acceptable conservative candidate then we must win in the first round of counting. If that doesn’t happen we have lost that particular race. Sadly, that describes most of the races we have. This illuminates the real problem: your neighbors… who vote communist. Think about that at your next neighborhood barbecue.

        • Indeed.

          It is little consolation that you were able to cast a second-place vote for a more engaging communist as opposed to a less engaging one, or a more eloquent communist as opposed to a less eloquent one.

          When good candidates don’t run, you don’t have a choice to vote for a good candidate, no matter which process is used to tabulate the results.

      • Just make sure and keep adding choices until you reach a point where all options are equally distasteful. At the end of the day, this could help get more conservatives elected, especially in lower profile races. People can vote their preferred choice and still vote the “safe-not-as-bad choice” second option as a buffer against the really terrible non-option(s) on the ballot. My biggest concern is that the liberals coordinate better. They may conspire to split their primary votes in a way that gives them the most entrants into the final four general. The Republican Party would be best advised to rally their base around a couple of favorites BEFORE the primary commences. Maybe informal straw polls amongst its members and then general agreement to push those with the most support? If the general has to be RCV, then the primary should be as well . . . just rank the whole list and ban the liberals from the general ballot altogether or force them to go all-in on one instead of letting them spread out their options. My biggest complaint is the split system– 1 vote in the primary and then 4 in the general . . . If taking 5-10 minutes on each race or a couple of hours on each election to make sure and rank in advance (you can write it down and take it in the polling booth with you!) is too much work for voters, then our main problem has been identified. Liberals care more about their ideas and are willing to put in some effort to advance them than conservatives. Let’s prove them wrong.

    • My plan is to rank the true conservatives in the order I like, then leave all of the RINOs and democrats off the ballot

      • Alan Swann commenting from what used to be the great state of Maine. My wife works elections at the Town Office in this 2,000 something rural dairy farm district. Man oh man…this RCV system is the kiss of death. Hell…I don’t even understand how to work it right BUT Jon…you have it RIGHT on how to mark your ballot as I just asked Kate if you have the right idea. She said you do and why can’t I be more like you! Haah..haah! Yaah…this stupid system was used for the first time two Novembers ago and you can see what it did to us. We may have a chance to get rid of it but it may be tough. Wish us luck,

        • And Jon…this is all you can do with your ballot and even so…it’s no guarantee that it will work out for you…BUT again…it’s all you can do and ain’t it fright? Kate was telling me how many votes had to be tossed out because people had the same person selected for the 1st and 3rd choice sort of thing … people would get a new ballot and still screwed it up and some folks just got so frustrated they walked out of the town hall and didn’t even bother to vote. And how this even passed up here is beyond me. I was shipped out so it was “done and done’ by the time I got back home. Kate says it was not advertised as what it really was and not enough opposition to it made headlines plus all of Maine’s high population areas have turned, over the years and incrementally, very liberal. People move up here to get out of New York but in the end really just want to make Maine like were they just escaped from! Drives me bat shit.

  13. I am glad to be thinking on the same playbook as this man. It means i am not as dumb as people think either by my appearence or limited education or communication. Rcv is going to require team effort. I get the feeling there still lacks players from both sides. We should have 4 geniune r’s in each race, then i don’t have to vote for a baby killer, Wouldn’t anyway, i’d just continue with my church outreach.

  14. Why would anyone want to give a vote to a so-called “moderate”? Most of the time your so-called “moderates” turn out to be hard leftists. I will only be voting for true conservatives, and leaving the rest blank

    • Your reasoning is precisely why the communists set up ranked choice voting to win for them.

  15. Thank you for explaining how leftists will manipulate this system to disenfranchise conservative voters. I did not understand it, so this was very instructive and useful for me personally. But David Eastman is right, we have Demoncrats like Kelly Merrick who masquerade as Republicans only to betray us once we stupidly pick her. Research – and for god’s sake VOTE!

    • Yes! Research. Kelly Merrick is married to a union boss. I don’t even vote in that district and I knew it. I EXPECTED her to be the one to turncoat. The primaries already hurt conservatives because liberals have no principals and don’t mind pretending to be something they aren’t in Republican primaries. Another good parallel to research is prepare questions for those people that come to your door. Word them in such a way that does not give away your position (and moderate your tone as well!). Example: Given a choice who would you support in a race: Lisa Murkowski, Sarah Palin, Mike Dunleavy, or Bill Walker. The answer will tell you something about which way the candidate leans. And if a known liberal comes to your door, act interested for a long time (get going on a fish story or something!) so they have less time left to talk to others! 😉

  16. If there are two candidates from the left they will run as a team. Rank voting is designed to keep the fringe voter energized and involved when their favored candidate doesn’t stand a chance but their second choice stands a better chance. The right is already fracturing by attacking each other, some people have already said they won’t vote for Dunleavy at all. That’s the way we end up with Gara or Walker as governor and the left knows it.

    • So I am supposed to vote for a weak RINO who supports child muzzling and failed year after year to get a full PFD? No thanks! My vote goes to conservative principles, not the Republican party

      • Jon,
        You are supposed to vote for whomever it is you think represents you the best, you can even not vote if you so choose. If you want to know how this new rank system works and how those you presumably do not want to represent you are going to use this new system that might be a good idea. Personally I think being informed and knowledgeable about how our voting system works is a good idea, of course I prefer to make informed and reasoned complaints about a flawed system instead of just howling at the moon.

  17. The precincts have trouble counting the votes correctly one time let alone multiple times. Ranked for FRAUD.

  18. “……A Democrat is never your choice.”
    In “normal” times, I would completely agree. But Lisa Murkowski will be on the ballot. I will vote for every candidate on that ballot except her, and if there are only three other options, I will write in “Satan” and vote for him. My votes over the past 30 years have been the better of the offered evils, so a Demonrat beats Lisa hands down. My 100% goal this election will be to send Lisa to her Daddy’s retirement porch so she can enjoy drinks with Daddy as they watch the sun set together.

  19. If I remember correctly, an (R) or a (D) etc. will no longer be placed after the names on the ballot. Is that correct? If so, this bravo sierra voting scheme becomes even MORE complicated, especially for those who don’t (or can’t, or won’t) keep track of individuals running. There are already so many good people not voting at all because they feel that their vote is meaningless. Now, that sentiment is on steroids. God help us all!

    • The Rs and Ds will show up on the ballot, but the candidates get to choose what letter appears. So a Democrat can request an R next to his name, and that will show up on the ballot

    • According to Alaska Statute 15.15.030(5) “If a candidate is registered as affiliated with a political party or political group, the party affiliation, if any, may be designated after the name of the candidate, upon request of the candidate. If a candidate has requested designation as nonpartisan or undeclared, that designation shall be placed after the name of the candidate. If a candidate is not registered as affiliated with a political party or political group and has not requested to be designated as nonpartisan or undeclared, the candidate shall be designated as undeclared.”

  20. Who is running, get prepared
    District 2 (Eagle River/Chugiak) Seat A (incumbent Crystal Kennedy is not running for reelection):
    Kevin Cross
    Vanessa Stephens
    Gretchen Wehmhoff
    District 3 (West Anchorage) Seat D:
    Kameron Perez-Verdia (incumbent)
    Liz Vazquez
    Nial Sherwood-Williams
    Nick Danger
    District 4 (Midtown Anchorage) Seat F
    Meg Zaletel (incumbent)
    Kathy Henslee
    District 5 (East Anchorage) Seat H
    Forrest Dunbar (incumbent)
    Stephanie Taylor
    Christopher Hall
    District 6 (South Anchorage) Seat J
    John Weddleton (incumbent)
    Randy Sulte
    Darin Colbry
    School Board Seat A
    Margo Bellamy (incumbent)
    Mark Anthony Cox
    Dan Loring
    Cliff Murray
    School Board Seat B
    Kelly Lessens (incumbent)
    Rachel Ries
    Benjamin Baldwin
    Dustin Darden
    Look em up, vote out all incumbents by putting them last or leaving them off.

    • You can write in a candidate in the fifth row, then rank him/her just as you would rank the other ones

  21. Forensically audit 2020 and all this crap will go away. Instead of demanding a forensic audit, we’ll all try to figure out how a rigged election methodology works – guess that’s how you lose a country.

  22. IT works like this : Get rabid misanthrope jokers like leftist SNL to make up elections.
    There you have it!

  23. Alan Swann from Maine writing again and trust me, Randy’s concerns here are totally valid and the numbers he listed are good.

    U.S. Representive Poliquin won the plurality vote with 46.3% (represented by voters’ “first choice” in the rank choice system) … but not with Maine’s needed Rank Choice Voting system’s 50% minimum of the vote. Therefore a different tabulation came into play using voter’s other choices to determine the winner. The Rank Choice “Recount” (if you will) Awarded Democrat Jarod Golden the seat with 50.5% of the vote and Republican Bruce Poliquin receiving 49.5%.

    It’s not only a stupid system, it’s a very confusing ballot for the voter and this RCV thing all came about, here in Maine, because the liberals were all bent out of shape because the Republican Paul LePage won the Governors seat (and twice I might add) with less than 50% of the vote both times. Who cares? … the most votes are the most votes. If not meeting a 50% +1 vote threshold is a problem, have a run off election between the top two vote getter’s but noooooo….let’s have this thing called RCV. Somebody beam me up! Alaska stand by for problems. TRUST ME ON THIS and less conservatives in office as well.

  24. RCV arrived in AK by fraud. I would guess the majority of Alaskans who voted for 2020’s measure 2 did so to call out dark money in local politics. Since that aspect of the measure was scrapped, RCV should be, too. This is not what people thought they were voting for.

  25. Mr Ruedrich may not realize he described in detail how leftist Murkowski will likely win vis-a-vis being the 2nd choice of both Democrat and Republican voters,

  26. RCV (ranked choice voting) is the most confusing, easier for fraud process of elections out there.
    Just add Dominion machines…(like the cherry on top)for the best cheating, fraudulent election possible.

  27. Ranked choice voting should be illegal. If you have to explain to people that they can’t just vote once for their candidate there is a BIG problem! One person, one vote!

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