Are Alaskans ready for ranked-choice voting?

Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 6:57 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Ranked-choice voting, a new way for Alaskans to vote, is coming up in the November general election after voters approved the new system in November 2020. Before voters get to see that ballot, Alaska Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai said they have to vote in the new primary election, which will advance the top four vote getters.

The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce invited the Director of Elections Fenumiai to give a presentation about the new voting process and what it means for Alaskans.

“All candidates, regardless of political party affiliation, will be on one ballot. No matter what the voter’s political party affiliation is, they will have access to only one, and one ballot only at the polling place on primary election day,” Fenumiai said.

The top four vote getters in each race will then be moving on to the November ballot for the general election, and that’s where ranked choice voting will take place.

“The primary election no longer determines the nominee of a political party or group,” according to the division’s website.

For a candidate to win in the general election, they must get more than 50% of the votes. If no candidate achieves that, vote counting continues into a second round.

The last place candidate from each race in Round 1 is eliminated, and their supporter’s second choice selections are allocated to the remaining candidates on the ballot. This vote redistribution process continues until one candidate reaches over 50% of the votes cast. In each round of counting, each voter gets one vote.

The Division of Elections is seeing a challenge when it comes to getting the information about ranked-choice voting out there.

“Our biggest challenge is just educating the public,” Fenumiai said “I mean, and we also have a duty to translate the informational material we have into Alaska Native languages, and we have a great team at the division that works on that and great panel members, but it’s a difficult process and just disseminating that information and getting peoples’ attention to it.”

The Division of Elections will be counting the first choice votes up until 15 days after the election. After that, it will be seeing which races will need ranked-choice voting. For more information, head to the Division of Elections website.

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