The election winner for Alaska’s sole seat in the House of Representatives wasn’t clear Tuesday and likely won’t be known for a few weeks.
That’s because none of the four candidates in the race — incumbent Rep. Mary Peltola, former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, political family scion Nick Begich and libertarian Chris Bye — were able to muster the more than 50% of the vote needed to win the race outright under Alaska’s ranked choice voting system.
As expected, Peltola and Palin finished as the top two first-choice vote-getters, with Peltola receiving 47.1% of the votes and Palin 26.6%, according to the Alaska Division of Elections. Begich received 24.3% and Bye 1.7%. Under the system, Bye’s votes would be the first to be reallocated under the ranked choice system, then Begich’s.
Now, the candidates will await another round of vote counting in which the last-place candidate will be eliminated, and their voters’ second-choice votes will be allocated among those remaining on the ballot.
Peltola, a Democrat, won the election in August to serve out the remainder of the deceased Don Young’s term in August in the second round of vote counting.
The outcome is likely a disappointment for Peltola, who had shown in recent polls she was on the cusp of getting 50% of the vote and avoiding a second round of tabulations. Peltola, of Yup’ik descent, made history as the first Indigenous person to represent Alaska in Washington, D.C.
It also gives some hope to Palin, who came in second in the August vote and probably had the best chance of beating Peltola of the other candidates. But for Palin to win, she would have to receive an overwhelming proportion of the second choice votes from supporters of Begich, the grandson of the man who held the House seat before Young and someone Palin has clashed with during the campaign.
According to the Alaska Division of Elections, the second round of vote tabulation will not be available until Nov. 23.