National Republicans are assailing ranked-choice voting after a Democrat won an Alaska congressional election in which 58.7 percent of voters cast a ballot for a GOP candidate.
Democrat Mary Peltola won the state’s special election for its at-large congressional district on Wednesday — despite winning 39.7 percent of the vote in the first round of the election, according to the New York Times.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin advanced to the second round, eliminating Republican Nick Begich. Peltola was the only Democrat in the race.
Under Alaska’s ranked-choice voting system, voters designate candidates by order of preference. Second-choice votes are used to decide elections in which no candidate secures 50 percent of the vote.
Peltola won enough second-choice votes from Begich voters to defeat Palin. Even as Palin gained 27,659 votes in the second round, the 16,399 votes her opponent gained proved enough to win the election by a 3 percent margin.
Sen. Tom Cotton criticized the novel voting system in two Wednesday tweets.
“Ranked-choice voting is a scam to rig elections,” argued the Arkansas conservative.
He continued, “60% of Alaska voters voted for a Republican, but thanks to a convoluted process and ballot exhaustion — which disenfranchises voters — a Democrat ‘won.’”
Ranked-choice voting is a scam to rig elections.
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) September 1, 2022
More than 11,000 Begich voters declined to list a second choice on their ballots.
Peltola appears to have won, although results remain unofficial pic.twitter.com/4a57jItaH8
— Geoffrey Skelley (@geoffreyvs) September 1, 2022
If these voters had broken for Palin — the other Republican in the race — the former Vice Presidential candidate would’ve overcome the 5,219 vote deficit that Peltola ultimately defeated her by.
Instead, by declining to list a second choice, they didn’t participate in the second part of a close electoral contest with major implications.
Palin herself has criticized Alaska’s ranked-choice voting system as “crazy, convoluted [and] confusing,” according to the Washington Examiner.
Former Republican Rep. Nan Hayworth was among the members of her party to criticize the system in a Wednesday tweet.
Ranked-choice voting is too goddamn complicated, advantaging the Party of Government–Leftists and Democrats who spend their days scheming about how to increase the odds of their candidates' winning elections, while Republicans try to tend to business and jobs outside politics. https://t.co/vmc3gSbCyS
— Nan Hayworth, M.D. (@NanHayworth) September 1, 2022
The at-large congressional district in question had been represented by Republican Don Young for nearly 50 years before his death in March, according to Ballotpedia.
Peltola’s election represents the first time Alaskans have voted under the new ranked-choice voting system, according to the Washington Examiner.
Both Palin and Begich will face Peltola again in Alaska’s November general election, according to Forbes. Palin called on Begich to drop out of the November race after Peltola’s Wednesday victory.
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