OPINION: Conservatives need to bite the bullet, ‘rank the red’

Conservatives are justifiably outraged by the convoluted “ranked choice voting” (RCV) system that recently produced the travesty of sending a Democrat to Congress to represent Alaska, one of the reddest states in the country.

Lots of people are angry that this cockamamie system – which many believe was set up for the express purpose of making sure that Republican-in-name-only Sen. Lisa Murkowski could keep her job – cost Republicans a precious seat in the closely divided House of Representatives. Trust me, I’m one of them.

RCV was foisted on the people of Alaska in 2020, passing by the narrowest of margins following a multimillion-dollar campaign funded by Outside interests and backed by a corrupt political establishment intent on preserving its own power, regardless of the cost to our state or our supposedly shared conservative principles.

Fortunately, we get a do-over in November. Unfortunately, we’re stuck using the same rotten RCV system as before. That means conservative voters need to be strategic.

The evil of RCV lies in its false promises. Like a mirage in the desert, it creates an illusion that can lead unsuspecting voters to cast a ballot that actually works against their own interests. That’s what the political insiders and establishment elites are counting on.

Consider the special election that took place in August – the one that resulted in a Democrat being elected even though 60% of voters preferred a Republican. The outcome of that election was decided by about 5,000 votes. But around 11,000 voters who cast a ballot for the other Republican in the race neglected to specify a “second-choice” candidate. As a result, their ballots didn’t count in the final tally. It was as if they never voted at all.

I sincerely doubt that these voters went to all the trouble of casting a ballot with the intention that it wouldn’t even count. But that’s what happened, because advocates for the convoluted RCV system, aided by the political establishment, made it seem as though voters could simply choose their “favorite” candidate without having to worry about normal partisan dynamics.


The problem is that, behind all the bells and whistles of the RCV system, it was still just a normal election. After the first round of counting, the other Republican – who has gotten far fewer votes than me for three consecutive elections – was eliminated from contention and we were left with a conventional contest between a Democratic candidate and a Republican candidate (me).

The people of Alaska have been consistent in their voting patterns over the years, and the verdict is clear: Alaskans prefer constitutional conservatives to represent them, and those type of candidates are currently found exclusively within the Republican Party.

That’s exactly why RCV serves to advance Sen. Murkowski’s interests. We know she would have stood no chance in a straight-up primary contest against her conservative opponent, Kelly Tshibaka. The only way to get her elected was to institute a “jungle” primary that ensured she would be on the ballot in November, then creating a system that would allow democrat voters to put her over the top. Thanks to RCV, Democrats can still rank their own party’s candidate first, knowing full well that in the final tally, their vote will help to give Murkowski the edge over Tshibaka. Even with that, it’s going to be a very close contest.

Things are different in the race for Alaska’s at-large congressional seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, in which there is a clear choice between a reliable conservative and a Democrat who will vote for the Biden/Pelosi agenda. The other Republican in that race is merely a distraction – and a potentially harmless one, as long as conservative Alaskans do the smart thing and “rank the red” by voting for both Republican candidates, in whichever order they prefer.

If we “rank the red,” we will reclaim Alaska’s only House seat from the Democrats and give Alaskans the representation they want and deserve.

Sarah Palin is a former governor of Alaska and former Republican vice-presidential candidate. She is running as a Republican candidate for U.S. House.

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