By RANDY RUEDRICH
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.