In a tight vote, the state of Alaska has moved to approve Measure 2, a bill that would allow for ranked-choice voting in election. Through this change, voters will no longer have to choose just one candidate during a primary election. Instead, Alaskans can rank candidates from most preferred to least preferred. Within each primary, the top four candidates, regardless of party affiliation, the opportunity to proceed to the general election.
“This is a victory for all Alaskans regardless of their political leaning,” political organizer Shea Siegert said.
“We now have an electoral system that lives up to Alaska’s independent streak by saying ‘to hell with politics let’s do what is right for Alaska.’”
Supporters of the voting change believe that it will help reduce political polarization between parties and candidates. It could also help catapult third party candidates who have difficulty breaking through the two-party system. Not to mention, academics at the University of Virginia and the University of Indiana found that ranked-choice elections may be more civil and result in a more diverse palette of victors. Ultimately, the system benefits more moderate candidates who can garner support from a wide array of voters.
“Ranked-choice voting rewards candidates who can appeal most broadly because candidates compete to be voters’ second and third choices as well as their first,” voting reform expert Lee Drutman stated.
By instituting this measure, Alaska joins Maine as the only two U.S. states who utilize ranked-choice voting. Massachusetts also put forth a similar measure, but it has been rejected. While it is rare in the United States, ranked-choice voting is popular around the world in countries like Ireland and Australia. Thus far, neither country has reported widespread issues with the inventive voting process.
Leading up to this year's election, Sens. Michael Bennett and Elizabeth Warren openly supported ranked-choice voting nationally. While it is still a fairly taboo idea in the U.S., it appears that it is gaining steam over time.
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