Voices & Choices

Alaska’s New Ranked Choice Voting System in the News

Alaska’s New Ranked Choice Voting System in the News

In recent weeks, we’ve seen dozens of articles from top national and local media outlets on Alaska’s unique new election system, which combines open primaries and ranked choice voting (RCV). 

Here are a few of the pieces, highlighting RCV’s benefits and how it might impact The Last Frontier’s high-profile races for U.S. Senate and now U.S. House, following the tragic passing of longtime Rep. Don Young. 

Washington Post

In “Palin not the sole reason Alaska is so politically interesting this year” (4/5), journalist Amber Phillips highlights some of the key reasons why Alaska and its political culture are so interesting and “worth your attention.” 

Phillips cites FairVote’s Senior Research Analyst Deb Otis, who says that, “Ranked-choice voting is great at finding the majority-preferred winner.” Phillips writes that RCV might benefit candidates who go beyond a “devoted but narrow base.” 

Further, Phillips writes that, in a red-leaning but independent-minded state like Alaska, RCV could also benefit moderate Republican senator Lisa Murkowski, “who has had appeal with independent and some Democratic voters.”

New York Times

In “The Wildest Election in America: The Race to Replace Don Young” (3/29), journalists Blake Hounshell and Leah Askarinam refer to the race in Alaska as “a fascinating political experiment in the making.” 

In the piece, Jason Grenn, the executive director of Alaskans for Better Elections, notes that: “We’re already seeing more and different kinds of names [of candidates], which is great for voters.” 

The article explains that the combination of open primaries and RCV could “break the stranglehold political parties have over primary elections, give voters more choices and create incentives for bipartisan cooperation.”

Anchorage Daily News

In “Alaska’s U.S. House race includes 48 candidates and a lot of uncertainty” (4/5), reporters Iris Samuels and Nathaniel Herz included an interesting and valuable point-of-view from Michelle Sparck, the director of Get Out the Native Vote.

Speaking about the number of candidates running to fill Alaska’s U.S. House seat, Sparck says, “A lot of us in the Native community are delighted to see such a deep bench in something of this caliber… A lot of us will rally toward our folks.” 

USA Today

Rick Rouan’s article, “Alaska to use final-four primary, ranked-choice general election for Congress. Will others follow? (3/31), zooms out to look at what Alaska’s new elections system means for voters in the Lower 48. 

The piece extensively cites FairVote’s CEO Rob Richie, as well as our state legislative tracker and research products. At the end of the piece, Rob highlights the use of RCV in Utah, “where ranked-choice voting started in a few municipalities before spreading to others throughout the state. ‘It just took a little tire kicking, observation that it could work,’ he [says.]” 

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Together, these articles underline that Alaska’s adoption of RCV matters for its residents and beyond. They highlight the growing acceptance of RCV as the fastest-growing voting reform across the nation. 

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