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Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is lashing out at the state’s “ranked-choice” voting process after she and fellow Republican candidate Nick Begich lost out to a Democratic candidate in last week’s special election for the state’s lone House seat.
Democrat Mary Peltola was declared the winner and will serve the remainder of former GOP Rep. Don Young’s term in Congress, though, between the two of them, Palin and Begich received around 60 percent of the vote.
But, under Alaska’s new system, voters rank candidates in order of preference; the candidate with the highest ranking wins. According to the Washington Post, “defenders have praised it for rewarding less polarizing candidates and more positive campaigning,” but conservatives like Palin have heavily criticized it as not reflective of the overall political leaning of the state.
Fox News explained the process:
Ranked-choice voting allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference on their ballots. Should one candidate receive a majority of first-preference votes, that individual is declared the winner in the race. However, if no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. Following the elimination of the candidate who received the least amount of first-preference votes, voters’ second-preference choices are evaluated and a new tally is established to determine whether a candidate in the race has received a majority of the vote. That process is repeated until a candidate wins a majority of the vote.
Palin issued a scathing statement this week blasting the process as well as Begich, who she says “cost the Republicans a seat in Congress.” She also urged him to drop out of the race ahead of November, when she and Begich will once again face off against Peltola for a full two-year House term.
“Nick Begich is now a three-time loser. His ego-driven insistence on staying in Alaska’s congressional race after repeatedly failing to garner a majority of Republican votes, while I have consistently won the vote, has just cost Republicans a seat in Congress,” she said in a statement, according to National Review. “Fortunately, there is still time for Begich to do the honorable thing and withdraw before the November election.”
For his part, Begich claimed that Palin — who was backed by former President Donald Trump — was unpopular in the state and therefore unelectable.
Peltola’s victory “really boils down to Sarah Palin,” Begich told National Review. “Sarah Palin’s unfavorables in the state of Alaska are so astronomically high, so high in fact, that the only other more unfavorably thought of politician in Alaska is Joe Biden,” said Begich, who also claimed that she “cannot win statewide in Alaska.”
He said her unpopularity is attributable to her “early resignation from the governorship, her pursuit of fame, and the monetization of her national notoriety immediately following her resignation.”
The outlet noted:
As a result of the ranked-choice-voting system, Begich was eliminated after the first round after coming in third place with 28.52 percent. His 53,756 votes were then divided up between Palin and Peltola, depending on how the voters chose to rank the other candidates. After the ballots were tabulated following Begich’s elimination, Peltola received 15,445 extra votes, while Palin got 27,042. Over 11,200 people only voted for Begich, without ranking anyone as their second-place candidate.
That last group ultimately proved decisive, as Peltola ultimately prevailed over Palin by a margin of just 5,219 votes (91,206-85,987.)
Begich also accused Palin of telling Alaska voters not to rank candidates.
“Unfortunately, Sarah Palin instructed her supporters not to rank candidates, and this had a spill over effect across the electorate. I, on the other hand, ranked Sarah Palin second on my ballot and encouraged people to do the same,” he told National Review.
“Either Sarah Palin doesn’t understand the ranked-choice voting system, or is more interested in herself getting elected than supporting other Republicans,” he said.
Palin said her campaign will “reload” for the November election and hope that Alaskans learned a hard lesson from the new voting system.
“Ranked-choice voting was sold as the way to make elections better reflect the will of the people. As Alaska — and America — now sees, the exact opposite is true. The people of Alaska do not want the destructive democrat agenda to rule our land and our lives, but that’s what resulted from someone’s experiment with this new crazy, convoluted, confusing ranked-choice voting system. It’s effectively disenfranchised 60% of Alaska voters,” Palin said.
— Sarah Palin (@SarahPalinUSA) September 1, 2022