I am a candidate for Alaska State House District 25. There were two of us in the recent “primary.” The incumbent won a clear majority, and I assumed I was out of the race, but because the new ranked choice voting (RCV) system automatically advances the top four candidates from each primary race, we both automatically move to the general, making the primary vote moot.

Larry Wood

After discussions at a couple of family gatherings over the weekend, I called the Division of Elections in Juneau on August 22. Contrary to what I had thought regarding the outcome of the primary vote, I’m still in the race. On one level, this is simply nuts, given the disparity in votes. 

Under the prior system, I would have been eliminated.

On the other hand, RCV diminishes any undue influence of party politics. In House District 25, the incumbent is the wife of the Republican House District Chair. Further, given the incumbent’s voting record, the open primary undoubtedly benefitted her.

With RCV the more conservative candidate risks losing any advantage accrued in a restricted Republican primary where candidates must appeal to actual Republican voters. Same goes for a radical Marxist Democrat who’d only have to appeal to Democrats in the old primary system. Any advantage conferred by party affiliation is diminished – or even lost – in RCV where anyone can vote for any candidate, regardless of party affiliation. This dilutes party influence.

While I may get a “second” chance, it reveals a complication that gives rise to confusion regarding the outcome of Alaska’s new primary system. If a candidate in a race with four or less candidates received over 50% of the primary vote, one would think that candidate had eliminated the competition, and the race for that office was over. Not so.

I suspect the reason behind Sen. Lisa Murkowski backing the RCV was to diminish the influence of the political parties in primary and general elections.

The intended purpose of an open primary under our RCV system appears to be the whittling down of candidates to four for the general election. But in primary races with four or less candidates (which is nearly every race in Alaska) all the candidates automatically advance to the general, regardless of how they did in the primary.

Our open primary system seems to be no more than a poll for those races with four or fewer candidates in a particular race. In those cases, should primary votes even be recorded if doing so influences how people vote in the general election? 

Conversely, the “poll” effect is not necessarily bad for candidates, as it shows them where they stand at the time of the primary vote and provides an opportunity to change those results, if necessary.

Had the primary ballot been limited only to those races with more than four candidates, confusion may have been reduced.

In my discussions with family and friends over the weekend, there was no consensus on the purpose of the new primary system. No one could categorically state that I was eliminated from the race. These were all people who are “super” voters.

Whether intentional or not, I believe a consequence of the RCV open primary will be to reduce the number of voters who cast ballots in the general election – especially in those races where there were four or fewer candidates for an office in the initial primary.

Can we make this any less confusing? I think so, either by eliminating primary races containing four or less candidates or scrapping ranked-choice voting altogether and returning to the former system – as flawed as it was. 

I suspect the reason behind Sen. Lisa Murkowski backing the RCV was to diminish the influence of the political parties in primary and general elections.

Under RCV’s open primary, the will of the voter is ignored, except where there are more than four candidates for an office.

While I think the Division of Elections did a decent job of trying to clarify a complex and confusing voting system, I still had to call them to get clarification on my standing.

If you are confused about ranked-choice, before you vote in November, call the Division of Elections at 907-465-4611.

The views expressed here are those of the author.

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Alaska candidate: What’s the point of the new primary system? We all advanced anyway.

Larry Wood
Larry Wood is a Christian, conservative and Republican resident of Alaska since 1954. Married 50 years, he is a father, grandfather, great grandfather, and retired from mining, soil remediation and telecommunications. His columns on politics and resource development have been published statewide in various publications.


  • Lobo says:

    RCV… “Rigged Count Voting”. This needs to be done away with if we want legitimate elections. I should not have to, or be encouraged, to place a mark by a name that I do not want to include in a candidate list.

    • AK Pilot says:

      You don’t have to. You can rank as many or as few of the candidates as you wish.

      • Lobo says:

        I know what you are saying, and that’s why I used the term “encouraged”.. But, depending upon the poll worker, and the individual voter, it has been perceived to imply that it is required.. It’s my “opinion” that the system is actually, unconstitutional. I think that the average American voter has enough intelligence to know who that want to vote for without continual manipulations of the system, and layouts.

  • Ronald Lee Keel says:

    All of this woke new culture held by but 1% of the American population needs to be shitcanned, period. We must vote yes on opening up the Alaska Constitution and get more than a few things straightened out for good. Schools are a mess, our judicial way’s are a mess, our election intregrity appears non-existent, and not but not least the permanent fund needs to be set in stone. We are very near to losing our Alaskan independence…..for good. We also need to develop our own resources so we can stop taking federal money which is why we have been so hindered in developing our own resources. They, feds, must keep us on the teat.

  • Neil DeWitt says:

    Well, we all know when RCV was implemented it was going to be a goat rope. Well, here we are. Nobody really knows who wins or looses only whoever is running the show says that so and so won because that’s who the person running the show wanted to get elected. So with RCV is there a reason to go vote now? Probably not but because some of us patriots swore an oath of alegents to uphold our Constitution we feel it’s our right to go and to cast a ballot for the best qualified person we want to run our state/country. Will we get that person elected? Time will tell I guess! I’m not holding my breath.

  • Proud Alaskan says:

    Decent job, what the blank, yes they fooled just enough people or cheated.
    Taking away your one vote in person with ID

  • Judy says:

    I assure you RCV only benefits Democrats. It was done by Lisa Murkowski who asked her former employee Scott Kendall to do because she knew she would not make it through a Republican primary again. RCV is rift with fraud. I research this many years ago and even the NYT said fraud was upward to 20%. Republicans have a right to run who they want in their primary. When people realize that the person with actually the 2nd amount of votes could win they will demand it be repealed. Laughingly the people that did the ads talked about stopping dark money. Dark money funded this effort. Uneducated voters duped once again!

  • Reggie Taylor says:

    “…….I suspect the reason behind Sen. Lisa Murkowski backing the RCV was to diminish the influence of the political parties in primary and general elections…….”
    Yup. After her 2010 primary loss to Joe Miller, and her repeated violation if the Republican Party platform, she needed to destroy party power. She couldn’t simply leave the party and become independent because there isn’t enough money in that. She’s the Alaskan version of the Wicked Witch of the East, Killary Klinton. They both simply want the power, and principles be damned.

  • Greg in Homer says:

    Larry Wood is clueless. He just doesn’t get it; ranked-choice voting isn’t about him. The whole point of RCV is to get Murkowski re-elected. That is the only point, and the reason the initiative passed in the last election. Alaska, you have been had. Don’t be surprised on election day in November when Lisa is #2 on everybody’s ballot but wins the election. Our election process is a sham. As Mark Twain said, “If voting made any difference, they wouldn’t let us do it”.