Alaska Elections 2022
Resources for Alaska voters’ first statewide use of open primaries and ranked choice voting.
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In 2022, Alaskans will hold their first elections using a combination of open (nonpartisan) primaries and, in the general election, ranked choice voting. Alaskans passed this powerful reform through a citizen’s initiative in 2020. The state will use the new system in a special election to fill the US House seat of late Representative Don Young and in the regular 2022 midterm election.
The new system puts Alaska on the vanguard of election reform in America. It has significant potential to tamp down political polarization and make room for a range of viewpoints that the current two-party system cannot accommodate.
Community groups, nonprofits, affinity groups—even local outdoors groups or book clubs—have a crucial role to play in educating voters on the new system. Fortunately, there are lots of resources for them to use: sample ballots, short explainer videos, mock elections, and in-language materials. Follow Sightline Senior Researcher and Alaska Lead Jeannette Lee, based in Anchorage, as well as Alaskans for Better Elections, for analysis of election developments and resources for organizations engaged in voter education.
Alaska’s special election is special indeed: The winner will temporarily fill the US House seat of the late Representative Don Young. A new voting system of open primaries and ranked choice general elections will make its debut. And in the special primary, Alaska will hold its first statewide mail-in election.
We answer the top questions we’ve been hearing about Alaska’s special election.
For the first time, Alaskans will use top-four open primaries and ranked choice voting to pick the winners in statewide races. Hundreds of thousands of voters across this vast state will need guidance on the new ways of choosing candidates. Turnout and results will hinge on the quality of the information they’re given. If enough Alaskans like the process, other states may decide to unlock the same opportunities for their voters and strengthen the trust and consensus required for a functional democracy.
It helps to remember that open primaries and ranked choice voting are easy to understand. Rather, change itself is the obstacle. This article provides some basic tools organizations can use to inform voters, including explainers, videos and other graphics, sample ballots, and mock elections.
Two days after pro-Trump extremists overran and trashed the Capitol, Senator Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, called on him to resign and signaled a willingness to officially break from the Republican party.
“I will tell you, if the Republican Party has become nothing more than the party of Trump, I sincerely question whether this is the party for me,” she told the Anchorage Daily News on January 8.
Murkowski is the Republican party’s version of a black sheep. She voted against the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, for example, and frequently called out the former president for bad behavior. She is also pro-choice. Though she is a Republican from a red state, many of her supporters are moderates and Democrats. Her ability to go even further—demanding a presidential resignation and talking openly about leaving the Republican party—coincides with Alaska voters adopting new open primary and ranked-choice voting systems last November. Alaska’s election reforms grant Murkowski even more freedom to follow her conscience and be pragmatic.
In a trailblazing win for election reform, Alaska voters passed an initiative that introduces ranked choice voting to all general elections, starting in 2022. The measure also institutes open top-four primaries and brings more transparency to the identities of donors funding political campaigns.
The success of Ballot Measure 2, also called the “Better Elections Initiative,” puts Alaska in position to become a national model for fixing polarized politics by incentivizing candidates to draw votes from a broader segment of the political spectrum. And it clears the way for Alaskans to support Independents and smaller political parties in general elections without fear of “wasting” their votes.