Rigged Choice Voting in Alaska

Last updated on May 23, 2022

The 2022 U.S. Senate race in Alaska is one of the highest-profile elections of the year, with President Donald Trump and many other conservatives targeting liberal RINO Lisa Murkowski for defeat. Murkowski has an enormous advantage in fundraising, nearly all of it from out of state, and is strongly supported by the cowards in the Republican Senate "leadership", most notably Mitch McConnell. We all know by now that McConnell reflexively opposes all conservative Senate candidates, and he says he enthusiastically supports Murkowski because:

  • "It's important for Lisa to be reelected. She's one of the few ... moderates in the middle of the Senate." The GOP leader added that Ms. Murkowski had been a "key player" to advance bipartisan legislation and that he would do everything in his power to ensure her success in November.

No wonder then that true Republicans back solidly conservative challenger Kelly Tshibaka; at least they back her ideologically if not financially. As of the end of the first quarter of 2022, Tshibaka had less than $1 million in cash to campaign with while Murkowski had over $5 million, and that doesn't include the $7 million ad buy which McConnell and his cronies purchased on behalf of the liberal incumbent.

People who are not familiar with Alaska's shiny new election system undoubtedly believe that this battle will be fought in the Republican primary, as it would in almost any other state, but that is not the case here. There is no such thing as a "Republican primary" in Alaska anymore, nor are there single-party primaries of any kind. Those same people probably also still believe that the candidate who is the preference of the greatest number of voters in November is elected. That, too, is not necessarily the case anymore.

Welcome to the brave new world of "Ranked Choice Voting", which should more suitably be known as "Rigged Choice Voting" for reasons which will become clear as you read on.

After a big-spending propaganda campaign by liberal organizations in 2020, the voters in Alaska were just barely persuaded to approve Rigged Choice Voting (RCV) for their state by the narrow margin of 50.5% to 49.5%. The ballot measure was, as expected, far more popular in the liberal precincts of the state than elsewhere.

Left wing groups, mainly from outside Alaska, spent nearly $7 million to influence the voters of Alaska -- a figure nearly 12 times greater than the amount spent in opposition to this radical change in Alaska's electoral system. Approximately half of the money spent on behalf of this odious measure came from an activist liberal PAC with the extremely misleading (not to mention Orwellian) name of "Unite America".

Political support came from liberals of all stripes, including ultra-liberal Alaska state House Speaker Louise Stutes, who at this time "identifies" as a Republican. Opposition came primarily from Republicans, but the ranks of the opponents also included prominent Democrats such as ex-U.S. Senator Mark Begich.

A Recent History of Rigged Choice Voting -- and other schemes to manipulate election outcomes

Louisiana was the first state to implement an oddball scheme known as the "jungle primary". Democrat Eddie Edwards came up with the idea in 1975, when at least 90% of Louisiana voters were registered Democrats. Edwards and his fellow Democrats decided that Republicans did not deserve automatic access to the general election ballot, so he concocted a law in which all candidates from all parties must run together on one large "jungle" ballot in the primary election.

The crux of Edwards' law is that the top two vote-getters in the primary, regardless of party, advance to the general election with the provision that if any candidate receives a majority of the primary vote that candidate would immediately be considered as elected, and there would be no general election. Naturally both of the top two vote-getters in Louisiana elections tended to be Democrats, and in that event Republican candidates were locked out of general elections.

Voters in Washington (in 2004) and California (2010) adopted a similar scheme. Those states utilize the Louisiana-style jungle primary in which the top two finishers regardless of party advance to the Novmeber election. However both states declined to adopt the provision under which a primary candidate who garners 50% of the vote is elected; there is always a general election for all contests. In this manner, if an "undesirable" (i.e. Republican) candidate narrowly exceeds 50% in the primary, there is still a second chance to "get out the vote" (or "ballot harvest") in November to make sure that undesirable candidate is defeated. California in 2018 provided numerous effective illustrations of this approach [1].

It took decades, but Louisiana's scheme to effectively disenfranchise Republicans has backfired on them because the electorate moved to the right and all but abandoned Democrats in most areas of the state. However in Washington and California the scheme has worked very well on behalf of the Democrats who worked so hard to impement it, and there is as of yet no sign of those electorates imitating Louisiana and moving rightward.

And now we have Rigged Choice Voting in a couple of states, those states essentially serving as guinea pigs for Democrats who desire to force this contrivance on every state in the country.

Although RCV is being used in several leftist municipalities throughout the U.S., Maine is currently the only state aside from Alaska which uses this tactic in federal elections and certain state-level elections. In November of 2016 the citizens of Maine, led by the liberal southern and coastal areas, voted 52% to 48% to inflict RCV on their state; RCV was first implemented for the 2018 primary elections.

The impact of Rigged Choice Voting in Maine was felt in the 2018 general election, at Republican expense. When the ballots were first counted, District 2 incumbent Congressman Bruce Poliquin had received 2,171 more votes than liberal Democrat challenger Jared Golden. But because Poliquin did not attain 50% of the vote (two independent candidates combined to take 8.1%) the provisions of RCV kicked in. Both independents were thus "eliminated" and the votes cast for those candidates were redistributed among the top 2 finishers. After that reshuffling of votes Golden was in front of the Republican by slightly over 1%, and the election was declared final.

How exactly does this hocus-pocus work? We'll explain it below, using the upcoming elections in Alaska as examples.

How Rigged Choice Voting works in Alaska

Alaska is the first state in the nation to adopt a "top 4" primary. All candidates for each office run together on a single ballot in a primary election, as is done in the three states mentioned above. Unlike those states, in which only the top two vote-getters advance to the general election, in Alaska the four candidates receiving the most votes move on to the November ballot. This is meant to ensure maximum fragmentation of the vote, and make it significantly more likely that RCV will decide who wins.

In the 2022 Senate race in Alaska, Lisa Murkowski and Kelly Tshibaka are assured of finishing in the top 4 in the August 16 primary election. They will be joined on the November ballot by two other candidates who have no hope of winning -- yet those voters who support the two also-rans will very likely be the ones who determine the final outcome.


Here is a verbatim description of the process from Alaska's election website:

  • How does Ranked Choice Voting work?
    In each race, voters will rank their choices in order of preference. The top four candidates who advanced from the primary election to appear on the ballot. If voters would like to vote for a write-in candidate, they may do so and include that candidate in the ranking. For a candidate to win, they must receive a majority (50% + 1 vote) of total votes cast. If no candidate receives a majority of votes in the first round of counting, more rounds of counting continue until a candidate reaches a majority. This is what happens:

    How are votes counted in Round 1?
    Only the vote for your 1st choice candidate is counted.

    • If a candidate receives more than 50% of first-choice votes, that candidate wins.
    • If no candidate wins in Round 1, the counting goes to Round 2.

    How are votes counted in Round 2 and subsequent rounds?
    The last place candidate from each race in Round 1 is eliminated and their supporter's 2nd choice selection is allocated to the remaining candidates on the ballot. This vote redistribution process continues until one candidate reaches over 50% of the votes or until there are two candidates remaining and the candidate with the most votes wins. In each round of counting, each voter gets one vote.

In our Senate example, it appears quite likely that neither Murkowski nor Tshibaka will get to the 50% threshold in Round 1. If that is the case, then the 4th place finisher will be eliminated and ballots which had that candidate ranked first will be examined to see who was ranked second. If re-allocating that candidate's votes is not sufficient to put anyone over the 50% mark then the process will be repeated by eliminating the 3rd place candidate and re-allocating the votes he received.

Therefore the voters of the 4th (and maybe 3rd) place candidate will determine the winner, because of who those voters ranked as their second choice.

The process is deliberately confusing, particularly to low-info voters; and the more confusing an electoral process is, the easier it is to take advantage of the confusion for the purpose of manipulating the outcome via fraud.

If you're still undecided as to whether Rigged Choice Voting is less than desirable, consider that liberals everywhere cheered the successful result of the RCV propaganda campaign in Alaska, as the following puff pieces illustrate:

Washington Post: "[Alaska's] new ranked-choice voting system gives Republican moderates a fighting chance against Trump and his allies."

The L.A. Times blandly (not to mention falsely) asserts that "RCV marginalizes 'hard liners' from BOTH sides of the spectrum".

This is an obvious lie, because the media's political spectrum runs only from "moderate" (leftist moonbat) through "right-wing" (like Mitt Romney) and "FAR right" (anyone the media really hates). There is no such thing as "liberal", and certainly not any "hard-liners" on the left. Other liberal outlets joyously proclaimed that RCV could lead to the election of fewer white males, facilitating instead the victories of "coalition-builders" as exemplified by "women and minorities".

Not everyone is so giddy about Rigged Choice Voting. "Liberals cling to ranked-choice voting as a cure for all election troubles, from polarization surrounding elections and the influence of money in politics to the need to vote strategically for candidates who have a chance to win. Yet none of these benefits have conclusively materialized."

"Benefits", you say?

[1]   There were 6 Congressional Districts in California in 2018 in which Republican candidates (as a group) received over 50% of the vote in the June primary; four of the 6 districts had Republican incumbents running for re-election. Democrats came from behind and prevailed in every one of those districts in November.