Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin has lost her bid to represent Alaska in its only congressional district, a shocking result that some are attributing to the adoption of a ranked-choice voting system.
Democrat Mary Peltola was declared the winner Wednesday in the special election for the late Republican Don Young’s seat, Fox News reported.
Palin loses House race
While Democrats cheered the win as an auspicious sign for the party ahead of the midterms, Republicans dismissed it as the product of fluky voting rules which Palin said don’t “reflect the will of the people.”
In ranked-choice voting, voters have the option of choosing more than one candidate. If no candidate has a majority in round one, the candidate with the least votes is eliminated and votes are then distributed based on voters’ second choices.
Peltola claimed 40 percent of the vote in round one in the August 16 election, with Palin trailing at 31 percent and Republican Nick Begich at 29 percent.
After Begich was eliminated, Palin received 27,042 second choice votes from Begich and Peltola received 15,445, giving Peltola 51 percent of the vote.
Over 11,000 voters who only chose Begich had their ballots discarded, something known as “ballot exhaustion,” because he was disqualified from round two.
Republicans blast voting system
Republican senator Tom Cotton (R-AK) was among those who voiced criticism of ranked-choice voting, noting that Peltola won despite Republicans receiving 60 percent of the votes.
60% of Alaska voters voted for a Republican, but thanks to a convoluted process and ballot exhaustion—which disenfranchises voters—a Democrat “won.”
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) September 1, 2022
Palin was endorsed by former President Trump, who won Alaska by 10 points in the 2020 presidential election.
In a statement, Palin criticized the voting system but said she was hopeful for a better outcome in November, when she faces Peltola and Begich again in the general election.
“With optimism that Alaskans learn from this voting system mistake and correct it in the next election, let’s work even harder to send an America First conservative to Washington in November,” she said.