Alaska House Special Election Outcomes Still Undetermined

Due to how the state counts certain absentee votes and its controversial ranked-choice voting method, the winner of the race for Alaska’s at-large House seat will probably not be determined until nearer to the end of the month.

Alaska’s longstanding Republican Representative Don Young passed away earlier this year, prompting a special election.

Former Governor Sarah Palin, who emerged as a conservative media figure following a failed vice presidential candidacy in 2008, is making a comeback in this election. She left office in 2009.

Special Voting System

Also running for the House are Republican entrepreneur Nick Begich III and Democrat Mary Peltola. Independent contender Al Gross, who also emerged from the primary, announced his withdrawal shortly thereafter.

Palin, Begich, and Peltola proceeded to the November election for the same House seat to serve the full two-year term.

On Tuesday, Alaska conducted its Senate primary and a special House election. This served as system testing for the state’s new electoral system, which permits four candidates to proceed to a primary.

Before tabulating ranking votes, the state’s Division of Elections must tally every ballot. The state accepts votes mailed from international voters until August 31, as long as the postmark is on or before Election Day.

If the leading candidate in the House race does not receive more than 50% of the vote after all initial ballots have been tallied, the elections division will consider voters’ ranked preferences.

This involves eliminating the candidate who received the fewest votes and adding those votes to the totals of the other candidates in the race.

The procedure continues for as many rounds as necessary until a candidate receives 50 percent plus one vote and is proclaimed the victor.

According to local media, the division anticipates certifying its House special election results on September 2.

Trump-Backed Opponents

In the Senate campaign, centrist Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski prevailed in a competitive, open primary against an opponent sponsored by Donald Trump.

Murkowski faced upwards of a dozen challengers in the so-called jungle primary for the Senate seat she has held for over two decades, including Republican Kelly Tshibaka, who was backed by Trump.

Trump targeted legislators who supported his impeachment following the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Trump conducted a rally alongside Tshibaka and Palin in Anchorage last month.

Tshibaka qualified for the main election as one of the top four primary vote-getters.

According to the Alaska Daily News, Young’s previous office formally shuttered on Tuesday, and his remaining employees were let go.

The post will be empty for many weeks until the victor of the special House election is inaugurated, which is expected to occur next month.

Alex Ortiz, Young’s former chief of staff, told the media until Young’s successor is sworn in, Alaskans in need of constituency services should call the offices of Murkowski or Sen. Dan Sullivan.