| Becky Bohrer | Anchorage Daily News |
JUNEAU — Alaska U.S. House candidate Sarah Palin on Monday said the state’s ranked choice voting system “needs to be changed,” though Alaska has yet to conduct an election under the system.
The state’s first ranked voting election, under a system narrowly approved by voters in 2020, will be the House special election Aug. 16. It features two Republicans — Palin, the former Alaska governor, and businessman Nick Begich — and Democrat Mary Peltola, a former state lawmaker.
Ranked choice voting also encourages positive campaigning since candidates need to go beyond their traditional base to be successful.
The new voting process ends party primaries and institutes ranked voting in general elections. Under the system, all candidates in a primary race, regardless of party affiliation, are on the same ballot, with the top four vote-getters advancing to the general election. There are just three candidates in this election after independent Al Gross, who finished third in the June special primary, dropped out.
Begich said campaigns are “effectively running a primary and a general at the same time.”
“We’re going to run this experiment. We’ll see how it goes,” he said, adding that he would like to see Alaska return to the prior system.
Peltola, who most recently worked for the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, said she is “not a very partisan person.” She said she is hopeful more moderate candidates will be elected with ranked voting.
“And my hope is that we shy away from the really extreme-type candidates and politicians,” she said.
Alaskans for Better Elections, which advocated for the new process, on its website says ranked voting allows voters to “express their true preferences without fear of accidentally helping elect candidates they don’t support.” Ranked voting also encourages positive campaigning since candidates need to go beyond their traditional base to be successful, the group says.
The group said people rank items by preference “all the time.”