The normalizing of an abnormal and dysfunctional election system



The promoters and defenders of ranked choice voting in Alaska, per Ballot Measure 2 of 2020, have brought in the reinforcements to do public outreach. They have purchased radio ads, and are placing slanted stories in the media to calm down the voting public.

“Delays in the election results are normal,” they say. “Alaska has always waited until the overseas ballots are back,” they say. “There has always been a 15-day waiting period before the election is final,” they say.

This is, of course, a big lie wrapped in a truth.

The truth is that because Alaska, by statute, has a 15-day period for absentee by mail ballots to be received, including military ballots from overseas, the certification cannot take place until that deadline has passed. In this case, it’s Aug. 31 for the Aug. 16 special general election and regular primary election.

The lie is that Alaskans have not known who has won. It’s the special election that is in limbo because of ranked choice voting.

In previous elections, it was obvious by the first, second, or third day, and most certainly it was known within a week who among the candidates was ahead. Rare instances — the coin toss for the Aleutian seat between Rep. Carl Moses and challenger (now Rep. Bryce Edgmon) in 2006, are so unique they can be considered unicorns, or rare mythical creatures.

Never before in Alaska history have Alaskans not known who won an election for any statewide seat fully 14 days after the election was held. Until this year. Because voters were tricked into passing ranked choice voting, the second round of vote tallies won’t take place until the absentee deadline on Wednesday.

This first experiment with ranked choice voting illustrates just how unfair the system is to voters and candidates alike.

There are two obvious leaders in this race to see who will complete the term of Congress Don Young, who died March 18. Ballot Measure 2 first forced an excruciatingly long timeframe for filling that seat on a temporary basis. Alaska has not had representation in Congress for 165 days, as of this writing. And won’t have representation for several more days it appears.

Mary Peltola, a Democrat from Bethel, is currently in the lead, with Sarah Palin, a Republican, sitting eight points behind her. The suspense is with the voters who picked Nick Begich. With his votes being tossed aside, the big reveal is what bubble his voters filled in for their second choice. Did they pick Peltola or Palin?

Pollsters and prognosticators are all over the map with this. They have been engaged in a guessing game on social media.

But it looks close. It could be within a few hundred votes. That’s because the Begich voters who did not pick anyone for second place have shrunk the universe of total votes for the second round of counting, and that changes the calculus: Peltola would not need many bubbles filled in to reach 50+1.

The vote totals for the first round of counting give Peltola 39.64%, Palin 31%, and Begich 28%.

Palin is considered to have the slight edge because, like Begich, she is a Republican, and conventional wisdom is that Republicans will mark another Republican second on the ballot.

But it’s all conjecture until Aug. 31.

In the general election on Nov. 8, Alaskans will have to go through this unfair and consequential long waiting period again. For many races, it will be clear who won. All state House seats and all but one state Senate seats are on the ballot, but the vast majority of those heading to the November general election are only facing one or two other people on the ballot in their race.

But for the Murkowski vs. Tshibaka race for U.S. Senate, there will be two weeks of uncertainty.

Where this painful and unnecessary delay will be most felt is in the governor’s race, because the 15-day clock starts on Nov. 8. That means the second round of counting won’t take place until Nov. 23. Just 12 days later — with no time for court challenges or recounts — the new governor will be sworn in, by law, on Dec. 5.

That governor must have his budget, by law, to the Legislature 10 days after that — by Dec. 15.

With two candidates teaming up against Gov. Mike Dunleavy, and begging each others’ voters to “mark me first or second,” it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Democrat Les Gara or former Gov. Bill Walker could come close to winning in the second round of counting. There will not be true certainty for at least two of the candidates. And so, once again, Alaskans and their government will be paralyzed by Ballot Measure 2.

That’s not what the public relations folks want you to believe. They are telling voters that this is perfectly normal. The soft voices are whispering to Alaskans that everything is just like it was before.

It’s not. The jungle primary and ranked choice voting is an infliction on Alaska’s election system, adding uncertainty, costs, delays, and fueling suspicion about election integrity, when voters must trust the system for more than two weeks before they know who wins a race.

It’s too much to ask of Alaskans to trust this election system. Ballot Measure 2 must be repealed by the Alaska Legislature in January.

Suzanne Downing is publisher of Must Read Alaska.


  1. The ones in charge of ELECTION INTEGRITY have taken an oath to GOD for election integrity. The book of life has all our deeds in it and that is that. ALL I can do is vote the best candidate and put it in GOD s hands. The book of life oath takers.

  2. Why would the legislature that benefits off of ranked choice voting ever get rid of it? We are stuck with this forever, unless a citizens initiative rises up to get rid of it.

  3. Sarah 1, Nick 2, Sarah 3, and Nick 4. How i rolled. One of these 2 needs to throw in the towel for the good of our state.

    • “Sarah 1, Nick 2, Sarah 3, and Nick 4. How i rolled……….”
      There’s a ballot thrown into the trash. I’m estimating a good 15% of the cast ballots joined yours there.

      • Because this was the intent. Create confusion, nullify votes. Advantage the minority. RCV was meant to cloud the process so that rather through away their vote on a leftist, now they get a second vote for RINOs.

  4. I agree, can not believe this was passed by idiots that signed petitions from out of stater’s to put out there to vote. Let alone pass it. Thanks Mike P. for your support. Also hows that vax you pushed working out for everyone. You know the the one that killed the flu and cancer. Hope you made $$$$ for support. Needs to be replead.

    • It’s funny whenever initiatives are involved, the losing side (traditionally more conservative) cry foul and throw in “out of staters” as a reason. That angst isn’t there if it’s an issue “they” support. It’s just like the election is corrupt – when someone or issue wins that I don’t like. But when it’s the opposite, it’s just plain fraud!! The Dunleavy recall was saved by COVID. Those of us collecting signatures were NOT NOT NOT from Outside and those enthusiastic signers were also NOT NOT NOT from Outside. Of course it gets crazy when some things you like and some you don’t. Sarah Palin told the Texas gathering that we all were MANDATED TO VOTE BY MAIL in her special election. Shouldn’t a candidate know the difference? And this ranked choice voting is SO COMPLICATED those who voted against it are so confused and can’t figure it out. Really?

      • Suze, you are certainly rationalizing. The Dunleavy recall started mere weeks after he was sworn into office. The man had not done anything yet. Covid did not “kill the Recall”, you simply could not muster enough signatures after years of trying.
        As for Sarah Palin, technically she was correct, as the primary vote for the special election WAS held by mail only, since the division of elections could not set up an in-person vote in the short time frame allotted.
        BM2 passed because people do not like outside interests meddling in our local issues. The RCV was down-played. RCV pits individuals from the same party against each other and again we see the manipulation, when Al Gross dropped out and limited the democrat choice to Mary Peltola, who came into the general with ~ 6% of the vote. Get real! That’s why people are upset.
        When outsiders spent big bugs on local issues like the constitutional convention (the 3 top contributors of the vote “no” are Sixteen Thirty Fund, Washington, DC; NEA Alaska – PACE, Juneau, AK; IBEW PAC, Washington, DC.), it is of concern.

  5. Great comment Suzanne. Thank you. I hope that people will remember that this farce called Rank Choice Voting was devised solely for Lisa’s benefit.

    • Robert, Its no farce. It is merely a method to remove power from the Republican party. In practical terms, it combines the traditional primary and general elections into one. Its divide and conquer. A stretch with Peltola and Murkowski strongly imposing Marxism on Alaska may be what is necessary for conservatives to properly coalesce once and for all.

      • “…….It is merely a method to remove power from the Republican party……..”
        Maybe a scheme to do so, but like all other tyrannical schemes, it’s going to bite the tyrants fannies off in the end.

  6. I can’t agree more with your points in this editorial. This crazy ranked choice voting system is completely abnormal and dis-functional. It only heightens anxiety and distrust of the integrity of fair and transparent elections. Every effort should be expended to repeal this disasterous and dysfunctional voting scheme.

  7. Thank you, Suzanne. You are absolutely correct: Ballot Measure 2 MUST be repealed by the Alaska Legislature in January.

  8. Exactly what I have been contending – that this voting procedure favors those who unite to take out an incumbent, or otherwise collude to grab power by any means necessary. When both the Walker and Gara campaigns have large donations from the law firm that employs Walker, one can suspect the worst. Why some people cannot see that is beyond me – it is so clear. This system is poison and does not represent the will of the people. It too readily supports coalitions of candidates against each other, negating people’s votes and encouraging wholesale manipulation.

  9. Can Ballot 2 be reversed by the legislature? …. Guess so …That would be wonderful.
    I thought since citizens voted it into law, we would need a petition drive to put it back on the ballot & then voted out.
    Let’s hope for actual Republicans in Juno this year that vote like Republicans for a change.
    I am not optimistic.

    • To my knowledge all petitions past by the people may be altered/repealed by the legislature after 2 years. BM2 was (barely) approved in 2020, so the 2023 legislative session could reverse it to the regular one person one vote and party primaries, if they have the will. It would be easiest to just repeal BM2. Something to ask all your candidates running this time round. (I recon you can not expect a warm reception from Cathy Giessel)

  10. The disdain you feel for the voters in Alaska is palpable in this piece, Suzanne. Insinuating we are foolish enough to be “tricked” into voting for RCV, rather than simply preferring the system, does us all a disservice.

    That said, you’ve never really done a service for our community to begin with.

    Say hi to me at the assembly next time, rather than skittering off when you can’t find the drama-bait clips that you came for, due to government functioning as it is supposed to.

    I know you’re incapable of it, so I’ll go ahead and feel embarrassed for you.

    • Speaking of disdain…..

      Just to be clear: are you claiming or roundabout insinuating that the brain trust behind this farce didn’t engage in misdirection or obfuscation to get what they wanted?

      They certainly paid Porcaro his 30 pieces of silver to pimp this concept for two years (?) now.

      I will give you this. One will never go broke betting on the stupidity and laziness of the average Alaskan “conservative” voter.

    • If you are a politician I would not say hi to you either, as you are ruining Alaska. Another life long Alaskan.

    • I have an extremely difficult time believing RCV passed as well. RCV does us all a disservice. One person, one vote.

      Judges have overstepped their bounds in the past and literally CHANGED the election laws (2010, 2020) in order to avoid “voter disenfranchisement.” RCV disenfranchises most of the voters.

      • So you must hate the Electoral College in presidential elections, if you truly believe in the “one person, one vote” principle

  11. Sorry you don’t like it MRAK, but the voters adopted it. As soon as it works in your favor, you’ll be all for it. And remember – you can always start your own initiative to repeal it.

    Anything that reins in the hegemony of the two-party system, whereby a small group of people control which extreme candidates get on the ballot, is fine with me.

    • And your statement proves her point about voters being deceived. You and your assessment are the perfect illustration. You’ve completely missed the point, or you are being deceptive. It’s very obvious-All this does is INSURE the two parties establishments get stronger and stronger and the voters will gets weaker and weaker. This was created by a cynical few, who want to prop up unpopular candidates, who are bought and paid for by the establishment and the powers that own them. Ironically, most Americans agree they don’t want special interests, big Pharma, big defense, etc running the country, and yet feckless, mindless, simps, line up to serve these same masters, simply out of hatred of their conservative neighbors. Again, you serve as the illustration.

    • A genuine question. Your distaste for the two party system is well documented.

      Would you prefer something like Israel or Canada when a minor, militant party can hold the entire process hostage? And often bring down governments?

      Or a Soviet style one party state where opposition and alternative ideas are not allowed?

      I’m really curious.

    • “…but the voters adopted it. ”
      And, somehow that makes it OK?
      What if the voters adopted a law that says it is OK to steal all of Whidbey’s possessions and beat him senseless. Would you be fine with is because a majority of the public wanted it?
      A pure democracy is nothing more than mob rule. 50% + 1 vote does not make it right. Especially since most voters are not all that ginned up on the issues. Often they are voting a single issue or a single party, not what is best overall.
      And, tell me one thing. Why should someone who is not a registered member of the political party have a say in which candidate represents that party in the general election? Why should a card carrying registered Republican have any say whatsoever in who represents the Democrats in November?

  12. I don’t mind the intention to make sure the winner has 50% of the voters who care. Why are the entire ballot results not released? Having blank 2nd choices means we have to be extra certain no one is tempted to fill them out after they have been cast.

    Are these all hand counted? Why so long?

  13. The delays are the worst part. It gives time for the Democrat vote counters to manufacture mail in votes. They can do this carefully and not be rushed so that their candidates will win with the slightest of margins. Then, we will be very close to the sworn in date which will occur on time. No time to refute or verify the votes. All part of the plan.

  14. Ranked choice is doing exactly what it was designed to do. Put the ruling class back into power and create enough mayhem to make sure they stay there.

  15. The article above inaccurately says, “But it’s all conjecture until Aug. 31.” On election day we saw unofficial results of the 1st-rank votes. However, for unexplained reasons, the Division of Elections is withholding the results of the 2nd-rank votes. Make no mistake, the 2nd-rank votes are easily and readily available. Think–in this ranked choice election, there are four stacks of 1st-ranked ballots, one for each of three candidates and one more for write-ins. Those 1st-rank stacks are further separated into three stacks each of 2nd-rank votes (2 stacks for the other candidates plus another stack for 2nd-rank write-ins). There are then a total of nine stacks. The lowest vote-getter of the three main candidates (likely Begich) will be eliminated and the 2nd ranked votes from his ballots will be distributed. These stacks are not physical; rather, they are in easily-accessible electronic files managed by Dominion software. The only thing missing is the absentee and questioned ballots yet to dribble in (which are unlikely to change the outcome). The results we are all waiting for can be seen with a few keystrokes by a Division of Elections bureaucrat. However, as said, the people in the Division of Elections are withholding the results. If you believe they have not looked at the 2nd-rank outcome, then I have a bridge to sell you. If the law requires this nonsense then the law is rotten; and those who wrote such a law are rotten. These people believe they are entitled to more privilege then us unwashed masses. Its tyranny–pure and simple.

    • Until the first round is certified – after the required 15 day wait, the ranked choice process may not commence. Therefore any keystrokes are unofficial and division of elections is not ‘withholding’ but abiding by state statute election requirements. Ranked choice voting is indeed adding cost and confusion to what should be a straight forward process.

      • Elizabeth, please answer the following question. Why are the uncertified results of the 1st-rank votes revealed on election night and updated periodically while simultaneously the 2nd-rank votes are concealed from us? Voting is long over–the voters are no longer in control of their votes; rather, the Division of Elections is. All ballots received are scanned and now exist as electronic data. If you believe no one has looked at that data then I have a bridge to sell you (as I said above). Think carefully, why would they withhold the 2nd-ranked data from us while showing us the 1st-ranked data? There is only one logical reason: to tamper with the data to manipulate the results. The optics of this fact pattern is horrible for the Division of Elections. If the law dictates this process to have such a corrupt appearance then the law is corrupt. Corrupt laws are made by corrupt law-makers and enforced by corrupt bureaucrats. Regardless of how much you trust your government, you should never accept even the appearance of corruption.

        • Voice of opposition, hear hear! It’s bovine excrement not to display a running tally of all the of the votes as ranked. Why the all the hush hush? An honest system would be transparent and updated often. I call Bravo Sierra on this thing!
          Just remember that it was Princess Lisa and her henchmen that created this horrible monster.

          • Actually not having a RC running tally makes sense because you still get votes coming in until the dead line, which we always had.
            Picture this:
            Candidate A gets 25 votes on election night
            Candidate B gets 24 votes and candidate C gets 18.
            If you run the RC now, candidate C gets dumped and his 2nd choice votes distributed and so on….however by the deadline you get 33 more votes and now it looks as follows:
            Candidate A 36 votes
            Candidate B 30 votes
            Candidate C 34 votes
            RCV is set up to make voting just another task and not an event, by having to wait until all votes come in and allowing for conspiracy theorists to have a field day further undermining the public’s trust in our elections. In our old system you knew election night, who won or was the likely winner. Now we end up with a result 2/3 of Alaskans did not vote for (counting ALL the conservative votes)

    • And how badly would MRAK readers lose their mind when the numbers would naturally change as more mail-in ballots are received? This entire comment section is littered with commenters who don’t believe election results! Any changes to the numbers would further exacerbate their outrage.

      • I cannot speak for anyone else, but I expect the numbers to change as the absentee ballots are received. More votes are showing up, so the numbers will go up accordingly.
        It is when an unbelievable amount of absentee ballots show up voting for the losing candidate that it is hard to believe. For example, for the House seat, Petola was up by about 6 or 7% over Palin when the polls closed. If suddenly the next day or two Palin had erased that lead because of absentee ballots, I would demand an investigation. That change would be extremely unlikely.
        But a change of a few points, or a close election changing, that happens.

  16. It is hilarious that the Left thinks that showing ID at the polls is suppression of voter participation, but gleefully cheers on this unduly complicated and confusing rig – the – vote system called Ranked Choice Voting which leaves many folks scratching their heads and saying “to hell with it, I’m not voting”!

  17. Everything is NOT “just like it was before”, because what we have now, with RCV, is a system that is even more heavily dependent upon the computer algorithm controlled “vote tabulators”. that are EXACTLY like the ones that were used to tip the scales on the RCV Voter Initiative in the fall of 2020, and in so many other elections since their very inception. Remember, this RCV win was a “narrow margin”? How many unlikely “narrow margin” episodes are we expected accept?

    Anyone that assures you that it is beyond suspicion, and defends the sanctity of “vote tabulators”, is quite likely morally and mentally corrupt. If they are not, they would seek with all of their authority and the authority of those that they have any influence over, to prove with the greatest of certainty, that it is completely impossible to manipulate vote tabulation. What might be the reason that we have not seen all people stand and demand in unison, to see and know intricacies of these computer gadgets? Why would so many people not care, or be completely disinterested in finding out, to the point of blindly defending them?

  18. Of all the things that smelled bad during 2020, ballot measure 2 smelled by far the worst in Alaska. It’s no shock that it involves the senate, one of the major battle fronts for Democrats.

    We have Lisa to thank for that. Otherwise out of state Democrats wouldn’t be seeing Alaska as a place to gnaw at. It’s funny to see all of the democrat yard signs right next to Lisa’s. Union liking republicans better realize what they are doing to our state by voting for Lisa. They aren’t voting for a union friendly republican. They are voting to entice more out of state influence that doesn’t care to do anything above the table and will only hide motivation and intentions because they don’t want those kind of republicans really knowing who they want to have power.

  19. An unbiased State Supreme Court would have overruled Ballot Measure 2 at the outset, since it destroyed the right of political parties to hold primary elections.

    Ask your state house & senate candidates at every speaking opportunity exactly where they stand on repealing this RCV fiasco.

    • An unbiased supreme court would have separated the “dark money provision” and the “RCV provision”. These are two different subjects and violate the single topic clause. In my opinion the dark money petition would have passed and the RCV would have been rejected. Our supreme court saw that as well and ruled to keep them together. A great deal of blame can be laid at their feet.

  20. Ranked choice treats some ballots differently than other ballots. That difference is a fact and cannot be explained away. The result is that the RCV system does not afford equal protection of the law and is unconstitutional.

  21. The biggest fear among Democrats is the “Closed Republican Primary.” That system allowed Republicans to decide who they wanted in office without Democrats interfering with their choices. The best example was in 2010 when Joe Miller beat Lisa Murkowski in the primary. Democrats, the Bush, RINOs, and the Establishment came running to her rescue. RCV clearly disallows Republicans to determine their own destiny. Good article, Suzanne. The repeal of RCV can’t come soon enough.

  22. If the election system was so good, and so desired by the voters, why the ads? Why the need to advertise?

  23. All of you cult members in the comments section are exactly why we need Ranked Choice Voting. Stop sending crazy Republicans to the ballot box and maybe they’ll start winning again.

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