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July 7, 2022

Why you should rank, even if you don't want to

I hear you, dear voter. 

Maybe you liked the idea of ranked choice voting. You liked that, in theory, it pulls candidates back from the extremes and rewards them for appealing to a broader base. 

But now that you see real names on the first ballot of this type, ranking doesn’t feel right. 

This is the current anguish of progressives. But I hear a version of it from Tara Sweeney Republicans, too. And Nick Begich fans who don't like Sarah Palin but won’t consider a Democrat. Seems that a lot of voters who have a favorite to represent Alaska in Congress can’t bring themselves to pledge part of their soul to another. Only a heel proposes marriage while floating a contingency betrothal plan.

Don’t want to rank? Don’t! Fill in the oval for one candidate and slap that “I voted” sticker on your chest. Wear it proudly. You’re entitled.

But late one night, you’ll catch a whiff of Ivory soap. Your A.P. Government teacher will appear before you, lips moving. You lean in to hear a stinging lament: “Super voter no more! You sat one out.”

Choosing not to rank a second, as the top story below points out, is like not voting in a runoff election. 

I hear Alaskans saying they’re antsy, even horrified about crossing the political divide to vote for a No. 2 they don’t like. It goes against the grain. I get it. We are a polarized nation. Some feel it’s morally wrong to vote for someone who they don’t think would be a good member of Congress.

Ranked choice voting is supposed to change the candidates. In theory, they will try to pick up No. 2 votes by not bad-mouthing their rivals, by looking for common ground.

Yet to make optimal use of this new ballot, you, dear voter, have to change, too. This special election is going to be decided by No. 2 votes. Unless you are 100% neutral about which candidate would be even a scintilla better than the other, overcome your aversion to crossing over, at least as long as it takes to do some research and fill in a second oval. If you want to maximize your voting power in this new system.

You can do it. You’ll be alone in the voting booth. No one has to know.

Meanwhile, as you may have heard, former President Donald Trump is coming to Anchorage to rally for three Republicans in the statewide races – Palin for Congress, Kelly Tshibaka for U.S. Senate and the re-election of Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

And pollster Ivan Moore has a new survey. Like the one he conducted in May, it suggests Begich is in a good spot to be Alaska’s next member of Congress.

Thanks for reading. Email me your questions and news tips.

- Liz Ruskin

Follow me on twitter: @lruskin

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Recent election coverage:

No, you don’t have to rank candidates you don’t like. Here’s why you should anyway.

Questions about ranked choice voting? We've got answers.


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