The special general election, which was triggered by Young’s death, marks the first time that Alaska is using ranked choice voting — a process that asks voters to rank their preferred candidates, with the votes for the lowest-finishing candidates coming into play only if no one tops 50%. CNN projected that no candidate crossed that threshold, which means it will be a while until the winner is determined, with the ranked choice voting tabulation scheduled to begin on August 31 — the deadline for overseas ballots to arrive.
The race to determine who will fill the remainder of Young’s term pits former Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee who has not appeared on a ballot since that election loss, against Nick Begich III, who won the Alaska Republican Party’s endorsement in April and is the product of a powerful Democratic Alaska political family, and former Democratic state Rep. Mary Peltola.
Palin’s attempt at a political comeback comes 13 years after she resigned the Alaska governor’s office in 2009 during her only term. Since then, she has been a conservative media figure and has endorsed and campaigned with various Republican candidates, but she has been largely detached from Alaska politics.
No matter who wins the special general election to fill the remainder of Young’s term, there will be a regular general election, which will also use ranked choice voting, in November to determine who will hold the seat in the next Congress.