One of the leading symptoms of the corrupt political system we live under is the inability to find out who won elections with certainty for weeks at a time. Alaska is the worst offender. Here’s my analysis from Real Clear Politics.
Alaska’s Election Night Stretches Into Polar Night
By FRANK MIELE
It should come as no surprise to my readers that I am a political junkie, and so every Tuesday during primary season I sit myself down in front of both my computer and television and prepare to mainline a data fix.
This last week, on Aug. 23, there were no major races that I was interested in, but lots of congressional primaries that could give clues as to how the midterms were going to turn out. I was particularly interested in Florida, so when the polls closed at 7 p.m. Eastern Time, I was ready to go.
In the old days, I would have had to depend entirely on the cable news networks to get the latest data, and I was still ready with my channel changer, pushing between CNN, Fox, and especially MSNBC, where Steve Kornacki delivers the best analysis in the business even though he works for a reliably leftist propaganda outlet.
But way more important than any TV analysis is the ability to see the raw numbers pour in as each state counts its votes and posts them, usually to a secretary of state’s web page. So mostly I was glued to my computer screen, and again oddly enough I was dependent on a leftie news outlet – the New York Times – for most of my info despite my conservative credentials.
Why the Times? I got hooked on the newspaper’s election page in 2016, when Donald Trump was battling Hillary Clinton, and all the early indicators on election night were that Hillary was going to trounce The Donald. In those days, the Times included a prediction meter that would give the percentage chance of a win for each candidate, and long before Trump passed the electoral vote threshold that ensured his victory, the Times had put the chance of a Trump victory into the high 50s and growing. I was celebrating when most of the world was still duped into believing that the Clinton machine would somehow pull out a victory.
Sometime after the 2020 election, the Times dumped its prediction meter. Is it because those running the paper realized that the meter made it hard to justify Joe Biden’s victory that year when Trump had big leads in so many states as folks were going to bed? I’m just surmising, but never underestimate the ability of so-called journalists to manage the narrative in ways that will benefit their allies in the Democratic Party.
So anyway, back to the 2022 elections. When the polls closed in Florida, it was an insta-call for the governor’s race. Gov. Ron DeSantis was running unopposed, and in the Democratic Party primary former governor Charlie Crist nearly doubled the vote of his opponent Nikki Fried – so no excitement there. But I kept checking back every few minutes to monitor the progress in the congressional races, especially in the 13th district, where two MAGA candidates looked to be locked in a tight race.
By 7:15 ET, just a quarter of an hour after polls had closed, 38% of the vote was in, statewide. By 7:19, that had grown to 51%. That seemed remarkable, and bucked the trend of other states holding primary elections earlier in the year, not to mention the deathly slow counts in 2020 in crucial states like Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Georgia.
As a test, I flipped over to another web page at 7:21 to check the election results from Alaska, where 83% of the vote was counted. That sounded pretty good, right? Unless, of course, you remembered that the Alaska election was held a full week before, on Aug. 17.
What the heck was going on up north? Was COVID forcing vote-counters to mask up and socially distance themselves from the ballots? Or was climate change to blame the same way it takes the rap for every other outcome in states where Big Oil is still Big Daddy? I didn’t know, but there were two crucial races in Alaska that begged for a decision – one where Trump hater Lisa Murkowski was fighting to retain her Senate seat against an insurgent challenge by Trump-endorsed Kelly Tshibaka, and another where Sarah Palin was trying to mount a political comeback by winning a congressional seat left open by the death of Rep. Don Young.
But it seemed like Alaska was more interested in competing to be named the poster child for inefficiency in vote counting than to provide results to its citizens, many of whom are of course even more interested than I am. So what excuse could there be for this laggardly performance?
Well, on the night of the election we were told not to expect all the results right away because the official count would be delayed waiting for the overseas vote to come in. But 17% still missing a week later? No way that much of the electorate was vacationing in Fiji, is there? And although Alaska is a highly patriotic state, it seems like a remote possibility that 15% of the population is stationed in the military overseas.
I dug a little deeper and discovered that Alaska allows all absentee ballots to be counted if they are received up to 10 days after Election Day. The justification is that it’s a big state, and a lot of small towns and villages are too remote to get good mail service. Plus, this gives election officials time to compare absentee ballots with those cast on Election Day to make sure there is no double dipping.
But wait a minute. Why is Alaska waiting for any votes a full week after the election? That is absurd. No wonder Donald Trump and a few dozen million more Republicans think there is something fishy happening with our “most secure elections” in the free world.
Hasn’t it ever occurred to Alaska and to all the Democrats who support mail-in ballots that a two-week gap between voting and counting is a golden opportunity for chicanery? And why is it that the state of Florida seems to have no problem at all counting the votes on election night?
If you are going to allow mail-in ballots, there is no reason why those ballots should be counted unless they are received by election day at poll-closing time. Don’t blame the post office if the ballot doesn’t get there; blame yourself. If you weren’t so lazy, you could have gone to the polling place like the rest of us and voted in person. Of course, exceptions could be made for the truly infirm, but let’s not make excuses for folks who are looking for an easier, softer way. Being a responsible voter is supposed to be a civic duty. If people aren’t responsible enough to get their vote in on time, maybe their vote shouldn’t count. Just an idea.
Florida seems to agree. According to the Division of Elections in the Department of State, “A returned voted ballot must be received, regardless of postmark, by the Supervisor of Elections’ office no later than 7:00 p.m. (local time) on Election Day.”
Hallelujah. Just maybe that’s why vote counting goes like clockwork there. By 7:26 p.m. last Tuesday, I saw that 60% of the vote was counted. At that rate, the Sunshine State would surpass Alaska’s week-old vote tally percentage in less than an hour. The Last Frontier would officially be the Last Worst Place for transparency in elections.
Long story short, Florida hit 79% by 8 p.m., and a few minutes later it did indeed count more of its votes than Alaska’s 83%. Florida then sailed to 94% by 9:03 p.m., a scant two hours after the polls closed.
You would think Alaska’s election officials would be embarrassed. Come to think of it, maybe they were embarrassed by their dismal performance because mysteriously they found an extra 7% of the vote overnight. When I checked in at noon ET the day after Florida’s election, Alaska had finally hit 90% of the vote tallied, just eight days after the election!
But just to be clear, Alaska’s long election nightmare is not over – not by a long shot. That’s because the state has adopted one of the stupidest ideas ever invented to complicate elections – something called ranked choice voting. The special election to fill the late Rep. Young’s seat gave us a preview of the chaos this Democrat-inspired chicanery can cause, but ranked choice is just the icing on the cake.
Before you even get there, you have to suffer through the “nonpartisan pick-one-primary election,” also known as the jungle primary.
In an effort to downplay the importance of political parties, Alaska now allows virtually anyone to run in election primaries, with the four top vote-getters moving on to the general election, regardless of party affiliation. In a red state like Alaska, that means the top four candidates could all be Republican. And in California, which has adopted a similar primary system, all the final candidates can be Democrats. Sorry, Republicans. Better luck next century.
Then when the general election arrives, those top four candidates face each other on the ballot, but the winner isn’t announced until one of them tops 50%. But if none of them can hit that milestone, and it is highly unlikely they will if there are indeed three other candidates on the ballot, then we get to watch the schoolyard game of dividing up votes until someone wins.
The votes of the fourth-place finisher are discarded, but whoever voted for that hapless loser had a choice to write down their second and third choices as well. So a computer somewhere has to divvy up these second choice ballots and add them to the totals for each of the remaining three candidates. If no one reaches 50% on this round, the whole process is started again until someone does hit a majority. What a mess. If the same process were used by families to decide what’s for dinner (and kids could vote), we’d all wind up eating out at McDonald’s every night.
But Alaska thinks this is just dandy. So in the special election for the state’s sole congressional seat, we have to wait until Wednesday, Aug. 31, to find out how the second round of ranked-choice voting went, and in a state where Republicans outnumber Democrats by nearly two to one, there is a very good chance that Democrat Mary Peltola will be elected over her two Republican opponents.
Peltola has garnered 38.9% of the vote so far (with 90% of the vote counted) whereas Palin has 31.4% and fellow Republican Nick Begich has 28.2%. If just over a third of Begich’s voters put down Peltola as their second choice, then the Democrat will be elected even though 60% of Alaskans wanted a Republican to win as their first choice.
Call me crazy, but if democracy dies in darkness, maybe the place to look for the body is Alaska, where election night has turned into a long bleak polar night of uncertainty. We have to do better.
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Heartland Diary is solely operated by Frank Miele, the retired editor of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell, Montana. If you enjoy reading these daily essays, I hope you will SUBSCRIBE to www.HeartlandDiaryUSA.com by leaving your email address on the home page. Twitter and Facebook may ban me at any time. Also please consider purchasing one of my books. They are available through the following Amazon links. My new book is “What Matters Most: God, Country, Family and Friends” and is a collection of personal essays that transcend politics. My earlier books include “How We Got Here: The Left’s Assault on the Constitution,” “The Media Matrix: What if everything you know is fake?” and the “Why We Needed Trump” trilogy. Part 1 is subtitled “Bush’s Global Failure: Half Right.” Part 2 is “Obama’s Fundamental Transformation: Far Left.” Part 3 is “Trump’s American Vision: Just Right.” As an Amazon Associate, I may earn referral fees for qualifying purchases through links on my website.