ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Unofficial poll results from Alaska’s June 11 special primary put former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and Nick Begich, both Republicans, among the top four voters in the special primary. June 11 in Alaska.
As of 10:51 a.m. EST Sunday, with about 72% of the votes counted, Palin had garnered 29.8% and Begich 19.3% of the votes, according to Decision Desk HQ.
With the votes still being counted, Palin and Begich are expected to qualify for the general election, while two other places remain to be determined.
State election officials said the 2022 special primary election was a first in many ways.
It was the first election to use the new nonpartisan top-four primary election system, voted in 2020.
Under the new system, all 48 primary candidates were listed on the same page of the ballot, regardless of political affiliation, to ensure fairness and visibility.
Voters were only allowed to vote for one candidate. The top four voters will qualify for the special general election, held on the same day as the state’s regular primary election, Aug. 16.
“This is Alaska’s first statewide mail-in election. With 48 candidates, this election has more candidates than any other election to date,” the division said.
“The special general election and the regular primary election will be administered in the traditional manner with open polls on Election Day, early voting, mail-in voting and in-person voting by mail.”
“Unlike the special primary election, voters must apply for an absentee ballot for the special general and regular primary elections. The special general election will use preferential choice voting and will be the first election in Alaska to do so.
Saturday’s special primary is only the second special election to fill a vacancy in state history. The position expires in January 2023.
The first special election was held in 1973 for Alaska’s only seat in the United States House and was won by the late Congressman Don Young, who served 49 years until his death on 18 March, triggering the special election.
Young, 88, was Alaska’s longest-serving congressman.
State election officials said all efforts were aimed at ensuring a fair and accurate election, given that the primary relies on mail-in voting.
However, state law does not prohibit the collection and return of mail-in ballots, also known as “ballot harvesting,” said Tiffany Montemayor, the division’s public relations manager. electoral.
“It is illegal to vote twice or on behalf of someone else, and the division refers any potentially fraudulent activity to law enforcement,” Montemayor told The Epoch Times.
The special primary also presented several challenges for election officials, including candidates.
Montemayor said the division only had a few days to organize the election, using the postal mail system given the time constraints.
Candidates, regardless of party, had about two weeks to decide whether or not to run and file before the April 1 deadline.
Each candidate had to establish a social media presence to bridge the vast distances between Alaska’s electoral districts.
As the largest state in the country, Alaska spans 665,400 square miles and has a total population of approximately 774,000.
Then there was the more daunting challenge of soliciting campaign funding on short notice.
“It is not difficult to launch a campaign. It is difficult, however, to fundraise in so many candidates,” nonpartisan candidate Jeff Lowenfels told The Epoch Times.
At the 2022 Fields of Fun celebration in Palmer, Alaska on June 11, Leslie Wright had just finished watching the gala parade with an appearance by Palin, her pick to replace Young.
Wearing a “Sarah for Alaska” sticker on her white hoodie, Wright said she voted for Donald Trump-endorsed Palin because she’s the “biggest dog in the fight.”
“She was good as a governor. She’s everything America needs. We urgently need it right now. Hopefully she can fix a sinking ship,” Wright told The Epoch Times.
Wright, a Republican, said she thinks Palin is also the toughest candidate compared to her closest Republican rival, Nick Begich, who was recently endorsed by the Alaska Republican Party.
“I know he’s voted for two Democrats in the past, and that just draws a red flag for me.”
As for Young, he was a “rock star,” Wright said. “I think Sarah Palin is the only rock star who can fill her shoes.”
Sitting comfortably away from the bustling fairgrounds, Michael Post, an independent, voted early in person for Begich.
“I think he is the most consistent with my point of view on things. Sarah is a beautiful person. I have met her several times, but I have not seen any evidence that she is so serious about this subject [election]Post told The Epoch Times.
“When you see the ads and Nick comes out, he puts a lot more into it.”
Post said her “biggest flaw” with Palin was that she resigned as governor in 2009 amid ethics investigations she called “frivolous.”
“Will she stay in there for us [if she wins Young’s congressional seat]?” Post requested.
“It’s a six-year term, so I think Nick is a bit younger and more enthusiastic. I think he will see to the best interests of Alaska without overdoing it. I don’t like seeing the pig back in this state more than any other state. Most of us agree: we would like to see a functioning government.
Post said he hoped that if Begich won the primaries and general election, he would work with Congress to “bring this country back to a more conservative bent when it comes to fiscal responsibility.”
Daniel, a Republican, who asked that his last name not be used, also voted for Begich and gave him credit for declaring himself the candidate in October 2021 before Young’s death.
“I have not been disappointed in anyone [else] participated in the race before dying. I thought, ‘Was that just an excuse for everyone to step in?’ If you’re bold enough to run for a representative, get in there,” Daniel told The Epoch Times.
“One of the things that I liked about Begich was that he was already there. There are a lot of issues — moral issues” to be addressed in Congress, Daniel said.
Nancy Brunett, an independent, said she voted for Begich, sensing a possible runoff in the election.
“It was a bit confusing,” Brunett said of the new, nonpartisan voting system. “I feel like it’s just a primary at this point. The actual race will start once the candidates are selected. The issues will work themselves out.
Regarding Palin, Brunett was blunt.
“I would rather she not be elected,” she said.
A woman working in downtown Anchorage said that of the 48 candidates on the ballot, only Santa Claus, a progressive socialist candidate from the North Pole, Alaska, resonated with her.
“Actually, for the special election, I voted for Santa Claus because he’ll only be in office for two weeks,” the woman told The Epoch Times while requesting anonymity.
“If it was the real office for two years, I would have more ideas about it.”
At Judy’s Cafe, next to Sarah Palin’s campaign headquarters in Anchorage, a man having breakfast told The Epoch Times that he usually votes for “whoever is the best but leans Republican” – but in this election he voted as an independent for Begich.
“I mean, yeah, I liked it [Palin as governor]. She was going to change things. I kinda liked that. Then she quit, and the other fiasco: I’m not in favor of her anymore.
While he also likes Begich because he’s a Republican, he’s not sure serious issues are driving this race.
“It doesn’t matter at this point. It takes four people” to qualify for the general election. “The next one will probably warm up more. We’ll be listening to that very soon.
“I think people are at the point where what does it matter? The sad thing is that our elections are so bad that Mickey Mouse could probably win the presidency. It’s such a sham.