PECS #36: Moving to the middle with ranked choice voting in Alaska

Abstract: Through the initiative process, Alaska adopted the Ranked Choice Voting  (RCV) electoral framework to conduct elections beginning in 2022. The first case of an election using this method coincided with the death of Congressman Don Young, who had served for 49 years, leaving an open seat. Ranked Choice Voting has been touted as changing the tenor of electoral politics to shape candidacies that are more targeted towards the entire electorate rather than aiming to serve partisans in the primary system. In this way, it is theorized to reduce hyper-partisanship and the power of the two major parties in American politics. This paper provides a narrative of the campaign and tests theories of RCV against the surprising outcome in Alaska’s lone House race.

Authors:  Chanda L. Meek and Amy Lauren Lovecraft, University of Alaska Fairbanks