Alaska’s Rank-Choice Voting Has Slowed Election Results

Due to sluggish counting and the state’s ranked-choice voting method, Alaska’s Senate and House races are lagging behind the rest of the midterm elections.

Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola led her Republican opponents, former Gov. Sarah Palin and Nick Begich III, in the election for the House but fell short of the majority needed to win in the first round. In the Senate contest, incumbent Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski and her Trump-backed Republican opponent Kelly Tshibaka were neck and neck, with Tshibaka taking a slight lead in the most recent round of voting.

Alaska is a vast state with few remote routes where absentee ballots must be sent before Election Day, delaying the tallying of votes. Alaska was won by former President Donald Trump by about 10 points in 2020, but the result was not announced until about a week after the election.

According to the Associated Press, following the most recent report from the Alaska Division of Elections on Friday, Ms. Peltola currently leads with 48.7% of the vote. Ms. Palin, supported by Mr. Trump, got 25.8% of the Republican vote, while Mr. Begich had 23.4%.

Ms. Murkowski received 43.3% of the vote versus Ms. Tshibaka’s 42.2%. Pat Chesbro received 10.3% of the vote as a Democrat. In both elections, nearly all of the votes have been counted.

Nationally, Republicans will dominate the House next year, while Democrats will control the Senate. The outcome in Alaska will have little effect on the party composition of the Senate since a Republican, either Ms. Murkowski or Ms. Tshibaka will win the seat. In the House, Ms. Peltola’s victory will reduce the Republican margin.

Under the new ranked-choice voting method in Alaska, voters can rank all candidates in order of preference. The fourth-place finisher is removed from the race if no candidate receives the majority of first-choice votes. Second-choice votes are reallocated among the remaining candidates without a majority of first-choice votes. The procedure is repeated until a candidate obtains more than 50% of the vote.

The ranked-choice tabulation is slated on Nov. 23. Jacob Rubashkin, a writer and analyst for the nonpartisan magazine Inside Elections, stated that Ms. Peltola is “a prohibitive favorite at this moment.”

Mr. Rubashkin stated that late-breaking ballots in Alaska tend to come from more rural and Native regions, likely favoring Ms. Peltola. “Something ridiculous would have to happen for her to lose the race at this point… she’s just so close,” he remarked.

Ms. Peltola, a Yup’ik Eskimo and former state lawmaker became the first woman to represent Alaska in the House and the first native Alaskan in Congress when she defeated Ms. Palin the first time they faced in a special election in August.

Longtime Republican Rep. Don Young passed away in March, leaving Alaska’s sole House seat vacant. His term will conclude in January. As the victor of August’s special election, Ms. Peltola served out the balance of his tenure, but if she wins November’s election, she will return for a full two-year term in Congress.

Among seven Senate Republicans, Murkowski voted to convict former President Donald Trump of encouraging an insurrection concerning the Capitol incident. She is the only one up for re-election this year. Mr. Trump pledged to remove her from office.

Despite being from opposing parties, Ms. Murkowski backed Ms. Peltola, and Ms. Peltola endorsed Ms. Murkowski. Campaigning on a theme of “seniority matters,” Ms. Murkowski has argued to Alaska residents that her lifelong contacts and expertise in Washington allowed her to help bring federal cash and new infrastructure to her state.

The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC funded by friends of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), which spent more than $6 million against Ms. Tshibaka, contributed to her re-election campaign.

Ms. Tshibaka has the backing of the Alaska Republican Party and Mr. Trump. Her campaign has touted the current outcomes. The Tshibaka campaign declined to respond.

According to Ms. Murkowski’s campaign, there are still ballots to be counted. Our campaign was confident in the favorable trend we are seeing,

Murkowski campaign spokeswoman Shea Siegert predicted that Lisa would perform well in the absentee and early voting. This trend persisted on Tuesday, and they are optimistic that it will continue once the remaining ballots are tallied.

According to Mr. Rubashkin of Inside Elections, Ms. Murkowski is in a favorable position heading into the ranked-choice tabulation. Still, it will rely on the number of Democrats who rated her second on their ballots.

“The only issue is whether or not the Chesbro voters will break decisively for Murkowski, he added.   This is what all the surveys indicate.