Alaska is set to become the second state to adopt ranked-choice voting after a majority ofAlaskans voted to implement Ballot Measure 2, according to updated vote counts released on Tuesday by the state Division of Elections.
The initiative also would switch Alaska state elections from a party primary system to an open primary system — under which all candidates compete in the same primary election for four spots on the general election ballot, regardless of party affiliation — and would require all state candidates to disclose more details about some kinds of campaign contributions if those contributions exceed $2,000.
Once the state election results are certified next week, Alaska will begin switching to those systems in time for the 2022 elections. The election changes would not affect the manners in which boroughs and cities conduct local elections.
Maine was the first state to adopt ranked-choice voting in statewide elections; voters there opted to switch to statewide ranked-choice voting in the 2016 general election.
In Alaska, support for the measure lagged among ballots counted on election night, but a majority of ballots counted since then have favored the initiative. A total of 173,431 “yes” votes had been recorded for the measure as of Tuesday’s figures, compared to 169,675 “no” votes.
Of the roughly 155,000 absentee, early and questioned ballots received by state election officials as of Tuesday, fewer than 2,000 had not yet been counted as of Tuesday evening, according to the state’s election information. Votes supporting Ballot Measure 2 led opposition to the initiative by more than twice that figure on Tuesday evening.
Election officials will certify the final vote tallies for all races in the Nov. 3 election next week.
Tuesday’s election results also decided three races for seats in the state House of Representatives.
House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt, an Anchorage Republican, had lost by a 16-vote margin to Democratic challenger Liz Snyder, with all received votes in House District 27 counted on Tuesday night.
Snyder, who lost to Pruitt in 2018 by 181 votes, pulled ahead of him on Saturday as election officials continued counting ballots.
As of Tuesday, Snyder had 4,574 votes to Pruitt’s 4,558 votes. The close race will trigger an automatic state-sponsored recount, and the final results of the race will not be certified until next week.
Another race between an Anchorage Republican and a Democratic challenger was decided Tuesday with the opposite result. David Nelson has won House District 15 with 2,528 votes, 90 votes more than his challenger, Lyn Franks.
Finally, House District 40, which includes Kotzebue, will continue to be represented by an independent candidate, after Josiah Patkotak beat Democratic candidate Elizabeth Ferguson in Tuesday’s totals. Patkotak received 2,290 votes, while Ferguson got 2,078 votes.
If Snyder holds onto her lead in Anchorage, that would leave Republicans with 21 House seats: the minimum needed to form a majority coalition, and two fewer than in the current legislative session in which Republicans were unable to form a majority coalition. (Independent Calvin Schrage unseated incumbent Republican Mel Gillis of Anchorage on Monday.)
More vote counting will take place on Wednesday but it will not affect the outcome of the decided races.