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Nov. 17, 2022

Undermining democracy for cash and cred

It’s now Day 9 of the 15-day waiting period between Election Day and Alaska’s Election Results Reveal Day.

Let’s not let this become a 15-day period of wild conspiracy theories.

Reminder: It’s not ranked choice voting that is causing this delay. State law requires the Division of Elections to wait for mailed ballots to arrive (10 days for domestic mail, 15 days from overseas) before certifying the results. Conducting the elimination rounds and tabulating the ranked choices adds maybe five minutes to the waiting period.

The latest vote count update makes it more likely that Congresswoman Mary Peltola and U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski will win reelection. Republican challengers Sarah Palin and Kelly Tshibaka have not conceded their races. Nor do they have to, at this stage. But their post-election statements on national conservative media outlets raise concerns that the end could get ugly, undermining public faith in the process.

Tshibaka seems to be leveraging general Republican distrust in elections to raise more campaign cash.

“We're anticipating a whole bunch of shenanigans here in these next couple months, between now and January, to try and hold on to the Murkowski monarchy. And that's why I really need your help,” she said on one post-election show. She cited her campaign web address, twice. “Please give and please help us finish this fight well.”

Tshibaka described ranked choice voting as a process “rigged” to help Murkowski. That was a word Donald Trump clung to, and it’s a reckless term to invoke, given the violence that came from his refusal to accept his 2020 loss. 

But, to her credit, Tshibaka has said that she wants to see the process through the ranked rounds, and she’s accurately described how it works. 

If a candidate wants to plead for contributions so she can hire election observers and attorneys to look out for her rights, beseech on. Leftover campaign funds can also help her raise her status nationally and give her a headstart on a future congressional run.

Palin seems to be discrediting the election process not so much for cash but as a matter of ideology. For a national audience who’s inclined toward grievance, this makes Palin seem like their kind of candidate. Election denialism is a central plank of MAGA Republicanism, and feeding distrust in elections is a way to build relevance with the MAGA crowd, in Alaska but also nationally, where a lot of Palin’s campaign energy was aimed.

I expect Palin and Tshibaka will ultimately accept the election outcome after it’s announced on Nov. 23. The concern is that they’re besmirching a clean process and undermining faith in Alaska elections along the way.

Stay tuned for new election results coming tomorrow. These will be first-choice votes from more absentee and questioned ballots.

Thanks for reading, and special thanks to those who’ve emailed me with questions and comments.

- Liz Ruskin

Follow me on twitter: @lruskin

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