Published September 1, 2022
It is tempting to blame Alaska’s new ranked-choice voting system for Sarah Palin’s loss to Democrat Mary Peltola in the state’s House special election. Don’t. Palin lost this one all on her own.
Ranked-choice voting allows voters to select more than one candidate, ranking them in order of their preferences. In Alaska’s model, the primary whittles the field down to four candidates regardless of partisan affiliation. Then, in the general election, Alaskans can vote for any or all four of them in the order they like — perhaps putting a moderate Republican first and an independent second. The winner must have a majority of all voters who choose to rank someone after their first selection, thereby theoretically empowering moderates unhappy with both parties’ extremes.
Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, studies and provides commentary on American politics. His work focuses on how America’s political order is being upended by populist challenges, from the left and the right. He also studies populism’s impact in other democracies in the developed world.
Image from Wesley Landrum on Wikimedia via Public Domain