Politics

How Alaska Republicans and Democrats choose presidential candidates

When choosing a presidential candidate to support at national conventions, it's "winner take all" for neither Democrats nor Republicans in Alaska.

Alaska holds closed "primaries:" To vote in the Republican "Preference Poll," a voter must be registered as a Republican, and to participate in the Democratic caucus, voters must be registered as a Democrat. They do have the option of changing their voter registration at the last minute to reflect a party and participate.

The Republican "preference poll" will be held March 1 -- "Super Tuesday" -- the day of primaries and caucuses in 11 other states. On that day, registered Republicans can go to local ballot locations and cast a vote.

Candidates who garner more than 13 percent of the Super Tuesday vote will be granted delegates at the convention in proportion to how many votes they received, according to the Alaska Republican Party.

Alaska Republicans get to send 28 delegates to the convention, a larger than usual number because of the state's status as a GOP powerhouse, with an all-Republican congressional delegation and majorities in the state Legislature. Of those delegates, three will be "unpledged," meaning they are free to support whomever they like. The rest will be bound to candidates based on the March 1 vote.

Alaska Democrats, meanwhile, have chosen to "caucus" on Saturday, March 26, the same day as Washington and Hawaii.

The process is a bit different than a direct vote, but with a similar outcome to the Republican process.

At a caucus event, voters at caucus sites will divide up and stand with a group supporting their candidate of choice. If a nominee is supported by less than 15 percent of those present, those voters will be asked to realign. At a state convention in May, delegates will be assigned in proportion to the votes each candidate received, according to the Alaska Democratic Party.

The Alaska Democrats will send 20 delegates to the national convention, with 16 of them "pledged" to candidates based on the outcome of the caucuses. Four are "unpledged" and may vote as they like.

Erica Martinson

Erica Martinson is Alaska Dispatch News' Washington, DC reporter, and she covers the legislation, regulation and litigation that impact the Last Frontier.  Erica came to ADN after years as a reporter covering energy at POLITICO. Before that, she covered environmental policy at a DC trade publication and worked at several New York dailies.

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