Great explanation of RCV, how it works and for whom it works best, i.e., the voters and the right kind of candidate. I hope Palin and Begich don’t read it, little whiners!

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Alaskan Republicans are used to the Republican primary winner winning the general election because Republicans outnumber Democrats. However, they don't outnumber the combined number of Democrats, members of the Independence Party, members of the eleven political parties seeking recognition and the independents. The Final Four - or in this case Final Three - voting system facilitated non-Republicans to affect the outcome of the general election. My complaints with the Final Four election system are the shifting of the diverse candidates from the higher participation general election to the open primary election, the primary is plurality instead of RCV, and possible infringement of the right of peaceful assembly of a political party.

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To remedy the flaws of this system that you cite, do you believe increasing the number that advance to the general from four to say eight or nine would help? What if the first-round election (primary) were held in mid October when media and voters are more engaged? I have been hoping to see many people suggest these changes.

Re: "...the primary is plurality instead of RCV..."

I doubt a 48-candidate RCV election is feasible. If an alternative voting method is used in the first round, perhaps approval voting would be the only one that really works.

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Frankly, I oppose open primaries. I think it violates a political party's right to peaceful assembly. I prefer the semi-open primaries implemented in South Carolina. Any state registered voter can vote in either the Democrat or Republican primary. However, a notable improvement would be if both party primaries utilized RCV instead of single choice plurality voting. Then both broad-based primary winners would compete in the RCV - currently plurality - general election against third-party convention nominees and petition qualified candidates. This typically results in no more than eight candidates on the general election ballot. I agree that 48 candidates is absurd for an RCV - or any other - type of election.

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When you write that you don't support open primaries, are you referring to open party primaries in which independents and those who aren't really party members participate, or are you referring to a first-round election that is not actually a nominating process? I believe opening party candidate nominations to nonmembers is terrible. It destroyus the definition and meaning of a party and its platform.

Party primaries sometimes fumble an election outcome and elect a lesser-preferred candidate. The most preferred candidate by all voters Mike Castle defeated by Christine O'Donnell in a Delaware primary in 2010, then O'Donnell loses to Democratic candidate Chris Coons. US Senate races in 2010 in Missouri and 2012 in Indiana are two other examples. The Democrat who placed second in the most recent gubernatorial race in Oregon may well have been the most preferred candidate.

This type of election failure may be the most common failure, yet using RCV or any type of alternative method in the primaries does not prevent it. Abolishing the party primary is the only solution that seems to me to work. In essence, prohibitive ballot access hurdles for independents and third party candidates and sore loser laws must be abolished. All candidates who want to be on the November ballot should have the same exact filing requirements regardless of party affiliation.

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This is another excellent piece by Hill: perceptive, complete, well-written, and based on considerable experience. Many folks (Hill names a few) are spinning the recent Alaska election to suit their political ideology, but as he clearly explains Peltola's win was largely due to her solid base, appeal beyond her base, and her strong campaign. And yes, those pesky Alaskan independents played their part. RCV helped bring out Peltola's qualities but without those qualities Alaska might well be sending someone else to Washington, D.C.

And Hill's opening sentence is great! As is the opening paragraph.

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The question isn't why Palin didn't win; it's why Begich didn't win: https://scottsthotts.substack.com/p/instant-runoff-ranked-choice-voting

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Oh please. You know nothing about RCV or Condorcet. How you can say with a straight face that a candidate who finished in a distant third place, in LAST place, who was nearly 12 points and 22,000 votes behind the eventual winner, and 2.7% and 5000 votes behind the second-place finisher, and who would not have won this election in Alaska’s old closed primary system either because he would have lost to Sarah Palin in the Republican primary; and who lost to Palin three times, including in 2 primary elections and 1 general election…yes, THAT candidate…under Condorcet rules…is the “real winner”? Huh?

That sound you hear is common sense laughing. I have already rebutted such nonsense, see:

"Alaska election results show why Condorcet is obsolete"

Condorcet advocates use the wrong standard for evaluating Ranked Choice Voting elections


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"would not have won this election in Alaska’s old closed primary system either because he would have lost to Sarah Palin in the Republican primary"

The older system didn't use primaries for special elections. Nominees were hand-picked by central committee or party executives. The newer top-four system scrapped that nomination system for special election scenarios. I've heard an Alaskan reporter say that under that older system, the party choices would likely have been Begich and Constant, and that Begich would likely have been elected. Would have been fascinating to see Peltola still win the two year term, though, perhaps a likely possibility?

"...a candidate who finished in a distant third place..."

Use of the word "distant" seems inaccurate since 28.5% is a very respectable amount of first place votes to receive in a three-person race.

"Condorcet advocates use the wrong standard ..."

I wonder how many political scientists who understand social choice theory well would suggest that when the Hare RCV winner and Condorcet winners differ that the RCV winner is the more correct one. I believe very few of them.

"...who lost to Palin three times..."

Plurality vote totals are meaningless since they suffer so horribly from vote-splitting. Since voters give no opinion about all candidates, it is not possible to know who the most preferred candidate is in such an election, especially with 48 candidates.

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By any sensible metric, Begich was the correct winner of the election. We need better voting systems like STAR, Condorcet, or Approval that actually elect the best representative of the will of the voters.

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