Ranked-choice voting tabulations for the Nov. 8 election to begin Wednesday afternoon

Alaska's News Source Anchor Ariane Aramburo brings you the FastCast daily digital headlines for Nov. 2023, 2022.
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 7:14 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Following the Nov. 8 General Election, the Division of Elections is wrapping up with ballot counting and set to finalize results Wednesday afternoon in an election featuring multiple races that have garnered national attention.

The Division of Elections said it will begin tabulating on Wednesday afternoon at 4 p.m. Alaska Time. Updated results showing first-choice results are expected to be published shortly before tabulation begins. The DOE said detailed results will be shared shortly after tabulation is completed.

Current unofficial results on the DOE website released Friday evening show Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski leading, if only slightly, in the race for the U.S. Senate; Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola in front by a large margin in the race for the U.S. House of Representatives; and Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy just .3 percentage points above the 50% mark in the race for governor of Alaska.

Rounding out the top four contests is a ballot measure proposing a constitutional convention for Alaska has more than 70% of votes tallied on the “no” side, with a large majority of voters against opening up the state constitution for alteration or even a rewrite, though that measure is not part of the RCV process.

So how does RCV tabulation actually work? It starts with ranked-choice voting election system, which voters put into place during the 2020 general election. Supporters maintain it allows voters to rank multiple candidates in order of preference so that the candidate with the strongest overall support wins, and it supports civil campaigning. Opponents have said it’s too complicated, delays results, and can lead to a loss, even for the person who at one point may have had the most votes.

However voters may feel about it, RCV is in place, which means voters in this year’s general election ranked candidates in order of preference, and as such, votes are counted in rounds.

“By ranking multiple candidates, you can still have a voice in who gets elected even if your top choice does not win,” wrote the DOE. “Ranking multiple candidates ensures your vote will go toward your second. third, fourth, or fifth choice if your top choice is eliminated, giving you more voice in who wins.”

Despite ranking multiple candidates, voters still only get one vote in each race; it simply depends on which candidates they ranked in what order, and who is still left in the running.

For the first round, the DOE tallies each ballot and counts every voter’s first-choice candidate. Once all ballots are tallied, the DOE goes through the counts to see if any candidate has garnered 50% of the vote, plus one vote. If this is the case, the candidate wins, and the counting ends.

If no one in an RCV race gets 50% plus one in the first round of voting, the DOE will move to round two.

In this round of voting, according to the DOE, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated from the race. As the top three statewide races currently stand, the bottom candidates are as follows: Buzz Kelley, who suspended his campaign in September but still made the ballot in the race for U.S. Senate; Chris Bye in the race for U.S. House; and Charlie Pierce in the race for governor.

It has not yet been determined if all three races will need to utilize RCV. If they do, however, these candidates would be eliminated in the second round.

If you voted for an eliminated candidate, your vote goes to your next choice. If you voted for a candidate who was not eliminated, your vote stays with them. If you only voted for one candidate, your vote is counted in the first round and stays with that same candidate throughout the tabulation.

This process is repeated until only two candidates are left. At that point, the candidate with the most votes wins.

As for detailed reports, the DOE will publish a report of the number of votes each candidate garnered in each round, as well as how votes were transferred when candidates were eliminated. Those will be made available on the DOE website.

Special coverage of the RCV tabulation by Gavel Alaska from the DOE headquarters in Juneau will start at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. Look for first-time coverage on Alaska’s News Source on the 5 o’clock Report.

An FAQ about RCV is available on the DOE website, and is offered in several languages, including Yup’ik, Gwich’in and Spanish. The DOE has set a target date for certification of the General Election on Nov. 29, 2022.