Alaska will have a new election system: Voters pass Ballot Measure 2

Bethel citizens vote at the Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center in Bethel, Alaska on Nov. 3, 2020. (Photo by Katie Basile/KYUK)

Alaska will have a new election system after voters passed Ballot Measure 2.

After Tuesday’s count, the margin between the number of votes approving the measure and those opposing it is greater than the number of ballots that are left to count.

The measure will introduce primaries that are open to candidates with any or no political parties. The top four finishers will advance to the general elections, in which voters will be able to rank their choices. Candidates will win if they receive a majority of the first-preference votes. If none receives a majority on the first count, the votes for trailing candidates will be redistributed until a candidate receives a majority, or all ballots are exhausted.

The last three House races were resolved with Tuesday’s vote count, including two in Anchorage and one in Northern Alaska.

In East Anchorage, Democrat Liz Snyder defeated Republican Rep. Lance Pruitt by 16 votes, if the unofficial count holds up.

But the margin is small enough that the state would pay for any recount.

Pruitt is the leader of the House minority caucus and was seen as a potential candidate for House speaker.

In the district that includes Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Republican David Nelson defeated Democrat Lyn Franks by a margin of 90 votes, based on the unofficial count. The margin is large enough that the state wouldn’t have to pay for a recount and Franks would have to foot the bill if she requests one.

Nelson would succeed Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, who he defeated in the Republican primary.

And independent Josiah Patkotak defeated Democrat Elizabeth Ferguson by a 212-vote margin, based on the unofficial count. That race is for a district that covers the North Slope and Northwest Arctic boroughs.

Based on the current counts, there would be 21 Republicans in the House, which is the minimum needed to form a majority caucus.

There also would be 15 Democrats, two independents who were nominated by the Democrats and two independents without party nominations.

All results will remain unofficial until they’re certified. The target day for that is next Wednesday.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed Lance Pruitt’s position in the legislature, he was the leader of the House minority caucus.

Andrew Kitchenman

State Government Reporter, Alaska Public Media & KTOO

State government plays an outsized role in the life of Alaskans. As the state continues to go through the painful process of deciding what its priorities are, I bring Alaskans to the scene of a government in transition.

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