Former 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who ran for Alaska’s lone U.S. House seat, condemned the special election results Thursday, which used ranked-choice voting to declare her Democrat opponent Mary Peltola the victor.
“Ranked-choice voting was sold as the way to make elections better reflect the will of the people,” Palin said in a statement. “As Alaska — and America — now sees, the exact opposite is true.”
Palin’s loss became clear Wednesday night, two weeks after voters went to the polls in the first-ever ranked-choice voting election in the state, which uses an electoral system that allows voters to rank candidates by preference on their ballots in rounds. A candidate can win outright with more than 50% of the vote in the first round.
If no candidate receives at least half of the votes, the lowest-ranking candidate is eliminated. Voters who chose the lowest-ranking candidate as their top pick have their votes count for their second-ranked choice. The rounds continue until two candidates remain, with the victory going to the candidate with the most votes in the final rank.
Palin argues the voting system effectively disenfranchised 60% of Alaska voters, considering Peltola won the state’s House special election with only 40% of first-place votes in the initial count.
“The people of Alaska do not want the destructive democrat agenda to rule our land and our lives, but that’s what resulted from someone’s experiment with this new crazy, convoluted, confusing ranked-choice voting system,” Palin said.
On Thursday morning, NBC News reports that Peltola defeated Palin 51.5% to 48.5%, with 93% of votes counted in the ranked-choice results.
Alaska Division of Elections website said the system benefits voters.
“By ranking multiple candidates, you can still have a voice in who gets elected even if your top choice does not win,” according to the division’s website. “Ranking multiple candidates ensures your vote will go toward your second, third, fourth, or fifth choice if your top choice is eliminated, giving you more voice in who wins.”
Political consultant Sarah Erkmann Ward pointed to Wednesday’s results as a “big wake-up call to Republicans” for how they should vote under the new ranked-choice system.
“Today’s reels should illustrate to Republicans very clearly that when they choose not to rank, there’s a good possibility that when their favorite candidate is eliminated, then their vote will no longer be in the mix,” she said, according to the Anchorage Daily News. “That appears to be what happened here.”
“A certain segment of Republicans elected not to rank,” she added. “That’s the consequence of not continuing on down your ballot.”
Peltola’s victory comes after Rep. Don Young, a Republican who filled the state’s only seat for nearly 50 years, died in March. While Peltola defeated Palin in the special House race to immediately fill the congressional seat left open, the two will meet again in November for an election that will determine who gets the position for the full two-year term.
“Though we’re disappointed in this outcome, Alaskans know I’m the last one who’ll ever retreat,” Palin said. “Instead, I’m going to reload.”
The Trump-endorsed candidate said she would learn from the “voting system mistake” in the next election to bolster the America First conservative movement and “clean up the mess that Joe Biden and the radical democrats” created.
— Sarah Palin (@SarahPalinUSA) September 1, 2022
Dillon Burroughs and Zach Jewell contributed to this report.