Ranked choice vote scheme has long wait for results, and extremely compressed timeline for governor-elect

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The ranked choice voting scheme created by Ballot Measure 2 in 2020 has brought a new set of challenges, including an extremely compressed timeframe for the incoming governor.

Rather than having a sense of certainty within a couple of days after the election (barring a close race), and thus putting a transition team in place, it could be three weeks before the next incoming governor knows where he stands. The General Election won’t have the books closed on it until Nov. 23 and will not be certified until Nov. 29. If a candidate wants to challenge the results, he will have until Dec. 4 to do so.

The winner takes office the next day — Dec. 5 at noon.

Because Democrat Les Gara and Bill Walker, the politically homeless man, are running essentially a combined campaign at this point, they could each conceivably end up with about 25% of the vote, and both could say that they will be the winner with the other man’s 25%+1 second votes. If Gov. Mike Dunleavy has 47% of the vote on the first round, there is the chance that either Gara or Walker could win by scooping second place votes.

While this doesn’t appear likely, it is technically possible voters won’t know who won for weeks.

Who, then, gets awarded the transition office in the Atwood State Office Building next week? Usually, the transition team is announced within days by the incoming governor, and the state provides the office space and funding for the transition to the governor-elect. In the event of an incumbent winning, there is no transition team.

This year there is little evidence that either Democrat Les Gara or Bill Walker are seriously working on transition teams. As the election gets closer, and as polling data gives clues to how a candidate is doing, the candidate who believes he is winning typically starts making phone calls to ask people to submit their resumes and to find out who wants to be on the governor’s team and in the cabinet.

Gara and Walker could demand keys to the Atwood and office space, phones, computers, and copy machines, but that would be a presumptuous move in this era of ranked choice voting. The chances are they will just fold up their campaigns and go home.

Another kink is that the new governor must have his budget filed with the Legislature by Dec. 15, which gives him 10 days after he is sworn in, but usually a governor-elect knows weeks earlier and will start getting budget briefings.

For Gov. Mike Dunleavy, who many believe will win reelection, the budget team has already been working on its 2024 budget and is putting finishing touches on it now. But if either Les Gara or Bill Walker win, they would be stuck with the current budget, which they would file a supplemental budget by February for the Legislature’s consideration.

The political calendar:

Nov. 8: Election Day ends at 8 pm

Nov. 10: Questioned Board begins review of questioned ballot envelopes

Nov. 18: Deadline to receive absentee ballots mailed from within the U.S., U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa

Nov. 23: Deadline to receive by-mail ballots mailed from overseas addresses

Nov. 23: Final regional count of Absentee and Questioned ballots

Nov. 23: The elimination of write-ins, fourth-place and third-place finishers if needed, and tabulate final results by 4 pm

Nov. 29: Target date to certify the General Election

Dec. 4: Final day to request a recount for governor/lieutenant governor

Dec. 5: Governor is sworn in at noon

Dec. 15: Budget due to Legislature for Fiscal Year 2024

Jan 17, 2023 – First day of legislative session

Jan 31, 2023 – 15th day of session, supplemental bill introduced

Feb 15, 2023 – 30th day of session, governor’s amended budget introduced

April 16, 2023 – 90th day of session, statutory end of session

May 17, 2023 – 121st day of session, constitutional end of session if extended

17 COMMENTS

  1. Suzanne, what needs explanation is why the delay in reporting the second choice votes.
    As far as I see, this is not a requirement of the RCV statute but a choice made by Division of Elections.
    What is their justification for withholding these results for three weeks?
    Anyone concerned about election integrity, let alone a duty to timely report election results should be astonished!

  2. None of this is new due to Rank Choice Voting.

    In the past, prior to 2022’s special congressional election, general elections results weren’t known until 2 weeks later due to the allowance of mailed in absentee ballots.

    • Yes, but the voting day results were reported, subject to change by mailed ballots.
      I can’t believe no one is objecting to this.

  3. Evil comes to us as a good kind friendly thing, then it gets exposed. Now the devil himself wants Michael the archangel to release him. The devil knows he can win with rank choice voting and corrupt oath breakers, GOD expects us to do our part while we are on earth, we are on the clock citizens. Jesus want us to back his kind. We are all lady liberty has to defend her. Lady liberty can’ slap these oath breakers across their face. We must. Suzanne thank you for your integrity & sense of fairness & duty ma’am.

    • If Alaska is going to repeal this top-four RCV system, people need to first decide what system will replace it. As flawed as top-four RCV is, the old primary/general election system with simple plurality voting it replaced was even more flawed and dysfunctional.

      There are several other ranking methods besides this version of RCV that could be used which don’t take three weeks to process, and there are also rating methods, different than a ranking method, like approval voting, range voting or STAR voting. As an example, an approval voting first round election (presently referred to incorrectly as a “nonpartisan primary”) could be held in October instead of August, and the top-two advance to the general in November.

      • Brian, Not sure you know this but this whole RCV system was devised to get Princess Lisa Re-Elected. I’ll take the Old flawed system over this one in a Kipnuk second.

        • This isn’t about Lisa, and getting her re-elected was not the major incentive. Most states soon (next 15 years?) will be replacing the extremely flawed old system with something else. Now that more than 40% of voters do not identify with either major party, the present primary/general election system used in most all states no longer serves the people.

  4. If Dunleavy loses, the system is definitely corrupt. Just by looking at the primary numbers, he’s overwhelmingly the favorite. If it were truly 1 vote per person, he’d win. I don’t see how ranked choice is constitutional. We should get 1 chance to cast our vote, not 4.

  5. Credit Scott Kendall, former (?) Chief of Staff to Bill Walker for this mess. Walker has such hostility to Dunleavy that he would sanction any means to defeat him, fair or foul. As for Murkowski, she always had enough democrat support to overcome any republican hostility. So it really was about Dunleavy. As for the coordinated campaign, it was evident from the beginning by following the money that it was to be a combined effort to take down the front runner, Mike Dunleavy. Unless the republican base turns out and Ranks Red, and really ensures that their ballots have no defect, Gara and Walker will carry the day, no matter how popular Big Mike is. This election is crucial to Alaska in ways that have not been evident for a long time. Rank the Red and GET OUT THE VOTE!

  6. Dunleavy was given a great opportunity and a great amount of help to become our governor!
    I along with everyone I know has been disappointed with his attitude and expression of “not my responsibility “ he has to everything presented to him!
    This has led to a huge problem and void as far as who to confidently vote for as governor!
    I may in fact skip that line or vote for Mickey Mouse!
    I’m sure there are many people like me!

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