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

An Alaska Native man in a baseball cap sits at a voting booth
Bethel citizens vote at the Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center in Bethel, Alaska on Nov. 3, 2020. (Katie Basile/KYUK)

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

After Tuesday’s count, the more than 3,000-vote advantage that yes votes have appears to be too large to be overcome by the 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, or all ballots are exhausted.

Read all of Alaska Public Media’s coverage of the 2020 elections

Two Anchorage House races also were resolved with today’s vote count.

Democrat Liz Snyder defeated Republican Representative Lance Pruitt by 16 votes, if the unofficial count holds up.

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

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

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.

There is one race that is still undecided. It’s between independent Josiah Patkotak and Democrat Elizabeth Ferguson, for a district that covers the North Slope and Northwest Arctic boroughs. The count in that contest could be finished Tuesday night.

Control of the House could depend on the outcome of that race. If the vote count holds up, there would be 21 Republicans in the chamber, which is the minimum needed to form a majority caucus. But it’s not clear if all 21 Republicans want to caucus together.

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

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