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Op-Ed: Alaska Senator Pitches for Ranked Choice

By • June 19, 2024

Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is hardly a guiding light in the Gem State, and especially those who are cuckoo over Donald Trump. But she does offer a simple explanation about ranked-choice voting – which is an accomplishment in itself.

Appearing on a PBS program a year ago, Murkowski said it’s not complicated at all. She sees it as no different from going to a restaurant and sorting through the list of menu items. Customers will make their first choice, and may have in their minds a second, third, or fourth selection.

With ranked-choice voting, she said, voters have the option (it’s not required) of deciding candidates in order of preference. If one candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, it’s over – we have a winner. It gets a little sticky if no one gets more than 50 percent, but stay with me (or Sen. Murkowski) here.

If there is no clear winner in the first round, she said, “the person at the bottom of the stack who received the fewest votes is eliminated, and their second choice is reallocated to the others. You go through that process until one candidate has received over 50 percent.”

See? That’s not so difficult. And that’s how Murkowski – a moderate Republican – was elected to a fourth term in the Senate in 2022. The process might take a few days, or perhaps weeks, which might cause some Idahoans to balk at the idea. But Alaskans, and certainly Murkowski, appear to be happy with the result. Murkowski, who is no fan of Trump, acknowledges that she would have had a difficult time surviving a primary race under the old closed-primary system.

Alaska’s voting system is nearly identical to the open-primaries initiative that is being pushed in the Gem State. As with Idaho years ago, Alaska had an open-primary system – where anyone could vote in a primary without declaring party affiliation (Democrats were free to vote in Republican primaries). But, as with Idaho, Alaska changed to closed primaries – where the most conservative faction took control on the GOP side. The basis for seeking a change is about the same in both states.

“Alaskans wanted more participation, a greater voice,” Murkowski said. Alaska moved to an open primary, where the top four vote-getters (regardless of party) advanced to the general election.

That’s what initiative proponents are calling for here. Hypothetically, that could mean that a gubernatorial race between, say Lt. Gov. Scott Bedke and Attorney General Raul Labrador, would be the featured attraction in a general election, opposed to a May primary. Voter turnout in a general election, of course, is much higher. Murkowski, for one, is all for ranked choice, with 26 percent of the electorate identifying itself as Republicans, and 17 percent identifying as Democrats.

“You have 60 percent who choose not to identify with either party,” Murkowski said. “Where do they go? Where is their political home? In a primary, they don’t feel there is any real incentive to participate … and in the general, what they are given are two individuals on the extremes of both sides.”

Idaho’s percentages are more lopsided. According to estimates from the secretary of state’s office, some 57 percent align with Republicans and about 27 percent are unaffiliated. Ranked choice may not put Democrats on the radar, but it could mean that moderate Republicans (on the level of Murkowski) could have more of a fighting chance.

Murkowski sees a practical side for incumbents.

“We have become too partisan in this country,” she said. “We see that in Washington, D.C. We see people who know where their hearts and minds should be on particular votes, but they know they are going to get creamed by their party if they vote the wrong way. They know they will be primaried by somebody who is more conservative or more liberal.”

I doubt if the slogan for the initiative will be, “What’s good for Alaska is good for Idaho.” But on this matter, Murkowski says her state could be a valuable example for others. “What we demonstrated in Alaska was the possibility that electoral reform can happen, and it can deliver outcomes that are less partisan and perhaps less politically rancorous,” she said.

This idea is worth a shot, if you are unhappy with how the Republican primary – which essentially decides most elections – is choosing its candidates.

Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at

This Op-Ed was submitted by Chuck Malloy. Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.

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23 thoughts on “Op-Ed: Alaska Senator Pitches for Ranked Choice

  1. Well now, Malloy and Murkowski…one trying to justify a reprehensible system to hijack voters and the other trying to justify the first one’s justification. Malloy, you are what is wrong with so much here it is almost mind-boggling.

    Lisa Murkowski is dead wrong in her attempts to sway voters, and you, Malloy, ought to be ashamed of yourself in your attempts to spin it even further as the party of the second part.

    Your premises are wrong, and this is business as usual with you. Ranked choice voting is WRONG…period!

  2. Democrats always want what’s best for Republicans, even if Republicans don’t understand what’s good for them, am I right, am I right? I mean, ranked choice got red-state Alaska their first Democrat Representative in 49 years! So you know it works! And Murkowski, that beloved moderate Republican that votes in lockstep with her Democrat Friends Across The Aisle on virtually everything, reportedly voted for her! Woohoo!

    (PS: Don’t mention the fact that a ballot measure to repeal ranked choice voting in Alaska is in the works. Wouldn’t want anyone to get the wrong ideas)

    1. Nicely put, and agree 100%.

      I agree with Malloy that it is simple: If the Deep State Democrats/RINO’s are for it, you know with absolute certainty that it will give them more power and screw The People.

  3. Nice try with the restaurant analogy…Anytime you make something so simple, more complicated, deception abounds. Total scam.

  4. Thank you so much for enlightening us peasants. We would have never known it was a good thing without your insights (poundings). It sounds like a great scheme to get more totalitarian democrats and rinos into office (cough cough I mean it sounds like a great idea), same as “mail in voting” (organized cheating).

    We are so fortunate to have an “independent journalist” (globalist bootlicker) like you to show us what is good and what is not. You’re really having a great impact. Your dream of eliminating all true conservatives in Idaho and replacing them with rinos (infiltrator democrats) and democrats shall soon be realized. Keep “picking them off”. Your “journo buddies” (puppets) should be so proud. I’m sure you’re all on your 7th jab by now. After all the rinos and democrats and media masters all say they’re “safe and effective”. So what they heck take the jab every year when it comes in, after all it’s “safe and effective”.

    You have all the same opinions as the globalists/democrats/rinos. You have the “correct” opinions. You’ve learned your “lessons” (brainwashing) well in “journo school”.

    You know what they said in “journo school”: “if you want to earn a nice living you’ll say what we tell you to say”. Al Capone or Vladimir Lenin would be so proud. As they say, “never question the official story if you want to keep the checks coming in”. Just nod and read the script the “professionals” gave you.

    Now how about a piece on the need for more mask wearing (suffocation) or the success and safety of the jabs (poison), or how being “locked down” was really a good thing. Or you can always go back to the J6 “bloody insurrection” where “we almost lost our democracy” . Or how xyz (insert conservative Republican Name) is an existential threat to “our democracy” blah blah blah.

  5. Murkowski couldn’t have been elected without ranked choice voting. I have friends in Alaska that hate this system and are working to get rid of it. So Alaskans aren’t so happy with getting their second, third or fourth choice. This system is how the RINOs want to get elected.

  6. What a coincidence! Just yesterday I read a lengthy story about how Alaska is on the verge of being sued by the federal government because its voting system is in a shambles throughout the state–inaccessible polling places, non-functioning machines, untrained poll workers and more.
    The first thought that crossed my mind was “So that’s how Murkowski keeps getting elected.”

  7. If so-called moderates like you (and Murkowski in Alaska) don’t like the direction the Republican Party is going, there’s a simple answer, leave and join another party or start your own party that aligns with your beliefs, don’t try and pervert the system grass roots Republicans have chosen. The Republicans of Idaho have spoken and they don’t want the old guard of the establishment / swamp candidates – they want people willing to stand up for IDAHOANS and our rights.

  8. Malloy and Murkowski are factually wrong. Ranked choice voting DOES force the voter to rank vote all the candidates or the ballot is invalid if there isn’t a first round winner.
    Sound complicated? It is.
    Malloy repeats a Murkowski rationale statement about unaffiliated voters being left out of a primary. Yes, a primary is meant for voters who chose to affiliate themselves with a political party. The concept of free association is lost on both Malloy and Murkowski.
    The takeaway is that Malloy is not credible and Murkowski is a pox on Alaska.

  9. Malloy is a ‘MOUTH’piece for the Idaho RINO’s. In the comments below every one of his articles, zero comments agreeing to his babble. You’re on the wrong side Mr M.
    T-MAGA 24 for 47

  10. As a poll worker I see confused voters all of the time. Those voters will HATE “ranked choice” and will have a hard time understanding it not to mention the nightmare it will create for the election officials. We already have claims of “fraud” constantly being thrown around and we have a GOOD system of checks and balances, do you believe that will disappear when we have to tell the voters that the guy who took 5th on first place ranking actually won after all of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th choice votes were added? You have GOT to be kidding me! Leave it alone. Primaries are MEMBER ONLY. If you don’t care to join the club, then you have NO RIGHT to pick their leaders. Plain and simple.

  11. Kudos to Idaho Dispatch for allowing Mr. Malloy using Ms. Murkowski’s logic to exposed how the Trump hating, squishy, establishment republicans are all in for a scheme that results is populace confusion, election by default, and security of incumbents. I am pretty sure that Sarah Palin would have a much different take on the wonders and success of Rank Choice Cheating- BTW after one election cycle it is one the ballot to be repealed- why would that be if it was so easy and wonderful?

  12. Simply ask any conservative who lives in Alaska how Rank Choice Cheating I mean voting has helped turn their state to a pale blue. Murkowski is a shill for the democrats and if you believe a word she says you are heading in the wrong direction.

  13. Malloy, like Murkowski, is laughingly (if it wasn’t so serious) wrong. Alaskans know it. They’re not taking action to repeal it just to wile away the long summer days. Murkowski is a RINO. Malloy is her lackey. Look at voting records, Idaho.
    Go to “ “ , look at the abysmal voting records of creatures like Murkowski, Little, and Simpson!!
    Throw them out, and return integrity to the process. We are running out of time.

  14. If the vote goes beyond the first round, then it’s rigged! How many votes does one person get? 2, 3, 4?? This nation was founded on one person ONE vote! You will have a choice in NOV, one person one vote or a system that is RIGGED. There is no way to verify the count, all the counting has to be done in a computer. How safe and transparent is that?

  15. I can see it now…the Murkowski Malloy 2028 ticket for president. A career politician and a “independent journalist”. How great for the rulers (cough cough I mean the people). Two rinos for the people.

    All the good ole boys at the lodge can think up a scheme to get them elected. Think of how enriched the elites would be with those two in office. Grab your wallets- $7 per gallon gas to force ev cars on the populace, or maybe a new “flu” or “pandemic” can hit the public just in time, say October, just in time for forced “mail in voting” on the peeps.

  16. Oh hell no!! I can’t wait for Idaho to go back to paper votes!!
    Most of Alaskans do NOT like 1, 2, 3, 4th choice voting.

  17. Their is ONE very easy way to detect if RCV is a SCAM to elevate bad candidates into power. The ranking does NOT allow for you to pick YOUR FIRST CHOICE more than ONCE! Let’s say I have to vote for a slew of candidates in a RCV contest. Let’s say I only desire for ONE of the candidates to be in office. My choice is very clear. If RCV was actually FAIR, I would be able to vote for THAT candidate at EVERY level. I would be able to EXCLUDE all other candidates as a choice. MY choice for the winner would be for as many rounds as they allow. But, they don’t want that, because that’s what people would do, pick their Number ONE choice every time. That’s how you know this is a SCAM!!!!!

  18. Voting has been simple for over 200 years. One citizen, one vote. The ranked voting game is played when the dems run numerous candidates, then use multiple votes to stack the deck. In a restaurant, you order one item, not your 5 favorites.

  19. Yet again, Malloy does no actual research on the issue. He simply regurgitates what he happens to agree with while attempting to use what is know as “appeal to authority” – the notion that just because someone is in a position of authority (like Senator Murkowski) that we should accept her worldview. What utter nonsense. We have Senator Murkowski and Susan Collins to thank for Obamacare and many other destructive laws, not to mention two leftist Supreme Court Justices.

  20. Algorithm voting–such nonsense!

    Malloy writing such drivel is the reason I stopped supporting the Idaho Dispatch with a subscription–if I want to read Malloy-type idiocy, I’ll go to the Idaho Stateman or the mainstream dying press. Sheesh.

    Hey, Idaho Dispatch: remember the “Fair and Balanced” lingo of Fox News? How is that working out for it these days, hmmm?

  21. Malloy must be a closet Democrat.

    Democrats love Ranked choice voting. San Francisco and California adopted it years ago. I saw so many elections where far left candidates beat out candidates in conservative districts by teaming up. Before election, the far left they would tell the people vote for the far left as there first choice vote and vote for the other far left candidate they teamed up with as their second choice. Both teamed up cadidates would say the same. At the end, even through the conservative candidate got more first place votes, one of the two far left would win because their second choice votes would wild put them over the top.

    It’s another democrat voting scheme. REJECT racked choice voting.

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