Sarah Palin to CPAC: Alaska's Ranked Choice Voting 'Results in Voter Suppression' U.S. House candidate and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference CPAC held at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas, on Aug. 4. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
By Charlie McCarthy | Friday, 05 August 2022 08:04 AM EDT
Former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin slammed Alaska's new ranked choice voting system less than two weeks before running in a special election for the state's only House seat.
Palin, endorsed by former President Donald Trump, was one of four primary finalists in the first election conducted under a new system, which ended partisan primaries, that Alaska adopted in 2020. The special election will be held Aug. 16.
Under the ranked choice voting system, all candidates of any party are on the same ballot, and the top four candidates go to a runoff election.
"In Alaska, we have this bizarre system, this newfangled [system] that's been newly adopted where we have a ranked choice voting system, where it doesn't matter if you win by getting the most votes," Palin said Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas
"Really, it matters if you have more second — and third — place votes, according to how the voters are ranking you. It is bizarre, it's convoluted, it's complicated, and it results in voter suppression."
Under the ranked choice system, voters rank candidates according to their order of preference rather than choosing just one candidate. The last-place candidates are eliminated, with their votes then going to each voter's next choice.
The process continues for as many rounds as needed for one candidate to garner 50% plus one vote and is declared the winner.
Speaking with CPAC First Vice Chair Charlie Gerow, Palin said Alaska is a "test case," for the new election format. She encouraged attendees not to support comparable systems in their states.
"I think a lot of people in every state — local, state elections, and national elections — we're seeing an atrophy there, too, of integrity within our elections," she said.
Palin is running to fill the Alaska's lone House seat following the unexpected death of Republican Rep. Don Young.
The winner of the race will complete the remainder of Young's term, and then will need to win reelection in another ranked choice voting system election, which produces a primary ballot known as a "jungle primary."
Palin's opponents on the special election ballot are Republican businessman Nick Begich III, Democrat Mary Peltola, and independent Al Gross, who after the primary said he would withdraw from both the special and general elections.
Palin, the former Alaska governor, ran unsuccessfully as then-Sen. John McCain's running mate in 2008.
"If I had to do it all over again, I would not hold back," Palin told CPAC attendees. "It's a shame that the McCain-Palin campaign had some shackles on me, not allowed to go rogue. Because that's what our country needs right now are fighters who are willing to go rogue and get out there and fight for what's right to save our country."