The culmination of the most significant electoral reform in the nation to date — to put voters’ interests first, to help politicians put country above party — is here.
Starting at 8pm ET today, the Alaska Division of Elections will live-stream the ranked choice voting results in the special House general election to replace the late Rep. Don Young. It will mark the completion of the first top-four nonpartisan primary + ranked choice general election in the United States. The livestream link is here; an alternative link to the DOE's Facebook page is here.
It’s just one election, mind you. More examples are to come in November. But for any voter who wants better choices and representation from their elected officials, The Last Frontier is now at the forefront of American politics.
Here are some reportable tidbits — including new poll data about the August 16 election and a resource for viewing the results from tonight — to consider as you plan your coverage:
The bottom line: From now on, the winners of Alaska elections are accountable to all eligible voters, instead of a very few. And that means better representation.
- Prior to Ballot Measure 2, the nonpartisan primary + RCV reform, a majority of registered Alaska voters were shut out of the party primary contests.
- This incentivized the major-party candidates to represent and answer to only the few voters who participate in partisan primaries, not the majority of their constituents — the dynamic at the heart of what we call the Primary Problem.
- But most Alaska voters — more than 60 percent of them — are independent, unaffiliated, or third-party.
- Now candidates and winners are accountable to all eligible voters, regardless of party. That’s a change in governing incentives. Bear that in mind for November and onward, especially, when there will be several elected leaders under this new system, but consider it today, too.
- To boot: Already, the number of ballots cast is the third-highest primary turnout in the state’s history.
Say it for the people in the back: Voters. Understand. RCV. We have more data to prove it.
- A new poll from Patinkin Research Strategies done for Alaskans for Better Elections finds that 85 percent of Alaska voters across demographic lines said it was “simple” to fill out their ranked choice ballot on August 16.
- A third of the respondents said they ranked only one candidate, their top choice; it’s permitted, and their votes count just the same.
- Of those voters, 75 percent said they ranked just one because it was the only candidate they liked, indicating they understood how the ballot worked just fine.
- These findings are further evidence that those who say RCV is too complicated for voters are plain wrong. The three most prominent Democrats in Nevada, for example — where a reform similar to Alaska’s is on the ballot in November — insist that the idea is confusing. (But could that be because they’re more concerned with party-control at all costs than they are with accurate voter representation?)
- The more the opposition makes the argument, the more it comes off as bad-faith — because the information to the contrary is piling up.
- 75 percent of New York City voters said their RCV ballot was “very simple” to fill out in 2021.
- 81 percent of Utah voters in cities that used ranked choice voting last year said it was “very” or “somewhat” easy.
- About 75 percent of voters reported that ranked choice voting was “somewhat” or “very” easy when it was used in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District
Coming this week: A tool for visualizing how RCV worked in Alaska.
- Shortly after the Division of Elections releases the results, our friends at FairVote will provide an animation of the RCV tabulation using RCVis.com. It’s a way to visualize — and understand simply and clearly — how candidates are eliminated and the ballot choices are reallocated.
- We’ll post a link to https://twitter.com/uniteamerica; check out, too, https://twitter.com/fairvote and https://twitter.com/rcvisdotcom.
Executive Director Nick Troiano has been interviewed recently by CNN, MSNBC, Yahoo! News, and Sinclair about these issues — so send us a message if you’d like to talk. Unite America executive director Nick Troiano is available for interviews today and tomorrow; please respond to this email with any requests.