Under Alaska’s old election system, independent voters — which make up 58% of the state’s electorate — did not have a guaranteed right to participate in the state’s partisan primaries. Further, growing partisanship with the state legislature led to gridlock over solving the state’s problems and five state legislators were “primaried” out of office in 2020 for working across the aisle.
In 2019, a group of Alaskans — Democrats, Republicans, and independents — came together to solve their state’s Primary Problem. The organization, Alaskans for Better Elections, collected over 30,000 signatures to get an initiative on the ballot, defended the initiative from attack in the Alaska Supreme Court, and ultimately won support among a majority of voters.
With the passage of Ballot Measure 2, Alaska became the first state in the country to adopt top-four nonpartisan primaries and instant runoff general elections (also known as Final-Four Voting). The new reform ensures that (i) all eligible voters can vote for any candidate, regardless of party, in every taxpayer-funded election, and (ii) winning candidates are required to win a majority of the vote.
Alaska implemented its top-four nonpartisan primary in 2022. After one election cycle, we can already see evidence of its positive impact.
Unlike the state’s previous primary system, Alaskans of all stripes can participate in primaries to determine the top general election contenders.
In both primary and general elections, elections are more competitive and feature candidates that represent the state’s political, geographical, and demographic diversity.
Voters can rank their preferences, which gives them greater influence under an instant runoff in case their top choice doesn’t earn majority support outright.
Rather than campaigning to just their party’s base, candidates are incentivized to reach out to all voters.
Elected leaders can support a policy that is backed by a majority of their constituents, even if it may be unpopular with the base of their party, without a fear of getting “primaried” out of office.
Our successful track record in Alaska exemplifies our approach to investing in election reform at each step of the way — from inception to evaluation.
of self-identified Democrats, Republicans, and Independents reported similar or better quality candidates in 2022 versus previous electionsMcKinley Research
of Alaskans support the state’s new primary system, which originally passed with 51% of the votePatinkin Research Strategies
of Alaska voters across demographics said it was “simple” to fill out their ranked choice ballotPatinkin Research Strategies
The latest Unite America press hits, analysis, explainers, partner storytelling, and more.