Congresswoman Peltola shared with us how she navigated Alaska’s new election process that Alaska voters approved in 2020. Alaska adopted open primaries with an instant runoff in the general election. In the open primary, Mary Peltola’s name shared a ballot with 47 similar candidates who hoped to win Alaska’s lone seat in the House of Representatives.
Under the new process, the top 4 candidates moved forward into the general election. One of those candidates dropped out, leaving 3 candidates to compete in the general election.
The other two candidates were Sarah Palin and Nick Begich, both Republicans. In the special election, Mary Peltola won the most votes, but not the 50 percent needed to win under the new process. So, the candidate with the least number of votes, Nick Begich, dropped off and the election officials looked to see who his voters picked as their second-choice candidate.
Under the new process, voters rank candidates by preference, but even one vote counts. Half of Nick Begich’s voters picked Sarah Palin as their second choice, so their votes moved to Sarah Palin. Of the remaining half of Begich’s voters, one-half, or one-quarter of Nick Begich’s voters, voted for Mary Peltola, and the remaining one-quarter decided to not pick a second choice.
This gave Mary Peltola enough votes to cross the 50 percent threshold to win. In this process we learned who the consensus candidate was, it was Mary Peltola. The reason Representative Peltola won rested on her appeal to most voters to be either their first or second-choice candidate.
You can see the Alaska election department’s tabulation of the House special election here: https://www.elections.alaska.gov/results/22SSPG/RcvDetailedReport.pdf
This process repeated almost the same in the general election. In the general election, there were four candidates. You can see the Alaska election department’s tabulation of the House general election here: https://www.elections.alaska.gov/results/22GENR/US%20REP.pdf
You can read more about Alaska’s special and regular elections here: https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2022/09/30/americas-weirdest-voters-test-its-newest-voting-system-00059376
You can read some analysis of Mary Peltola’s campaigning style and how it aligned with ranked choice voting: https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2023/0105/We-re-all-on-the-same-team-Inside-the-Alaska-model-for-US-politics
You can watch the recording of our meeting with Mary Peltola here: https://vote-nevada.news/Mary-Peltola-Webinar-Recording
Nevada is also considering adopting election reforms like what Alaska used in 2022. This was Ballot Question 3 on the 2022 ballot and will be Ballot Question 3 on your 2024 ballot. You can learn more about Ballot Question 3 here: https://vote-nevada-blog.org/top-5-open-primary-with-ranked-choice-voting/
If you would like to know more about Veterans for Political Innovation, please visit: https://www.veteransforpoliticalinnovation.org/
And if you are interested in the Forward Party, please visit here: https://www.forwardparty.com/
Thank you again for attending today’s webinar.