Case Study: Alaska

Alaska’s Primary Solution

Alaska offers a proof of concept for how Unite America plays a critical role in winning election reform that improves our political system.

OUr Impact

Since 2019, Unite America has been the largest investor to help win, implement, and defend the country’s first top-four nonpartisan primary and instant runoff general election in Alaska. The new system was successfully used for the first time in 2022.


Alaska’s Primary Problem

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.

Alaska’s Primary Solution

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.


What is the impact of the system?

More Voice

Unlike the state’s previous primary system, Alaskans of all stripes can participate in primaries to determine the top general election contenders.

Better Choices

In both primary and general elections, elections are more competitive and feature candidates that represent the state’s political, geographical, and demographic diversity.

More Power

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.

Majority Rules

Rather than campaigning to just their party’s base, candidates are incentivized to reach out to all voters.

Voters First

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.


Unite America’s Role

Our successful track record in Alaska exemplifies our approach to investing in election reform at each step of the way — from inception to evaluation.


A seed grant supports the drafting and legal review of ballot initiative language.


Local partners qualify the initiative for the ballot and run a winning campaign.


Local and national partners support voter education and election administration surrounding the new election system, ensuring seamless implementation for 2022.


Commissioned research evaluates the effectiveness of the reform while local partners defend the system against potential repeal in the state legislature.
By the Numbers

of self-identified Democrats, Republicans, and Independents reported similar or better quality candidates in 2022 versus previous elections

McKinley Research

of Alaskans support the state’s new primary system, which originally passed with 51% of the vote

Patinkin Research Strategies

of Alaska voters across demographics said it was “simple” to fill out their ranked choice ballot

Patinkin Research Strategies