Murkowski Defeats Tshibaka in Alaska’s Ranked-Choice Senate Race

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Incumbent Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski was declared the winner over Republican challenger Kelly Tshibaka as Alaska’s lengthy and complex ranked-choice election process reached an unofficial conclusion on Nov. 23.

Murkowski, one of seven Senate Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump, overcame a post-Election Day deficit to defeat Tshibaka, who was endorsed by the former president, according to results announced by the Alaska Division of Elections.

“I am honored that Alaskans—of all regions, backgrounds and party affiliations—have once again granted me their confidence to continue working with them and on their behalf in the U.S. Senate,” Murkowski posted to Twitter after the results were announced. “I look forward to continuing the important work ahead of us.”

Murkowski prevailed with 135,972 votes (53.69 percent) followed by Tshibaka at 117,299 votes (46.31 percent). Democrat Patricia Chesbro and Republican Buzz Kelley finished third and fourth respectively.

The outcomes of the 12 races were announced on KTOO 360TV, which is Alaska’s public broadcasting network.

Alaska’s election results will remain unofficial until they are certified. The target date for that task is Nov. 29, the Division of Elections said.

Though early voting started in Alaska on Oct. 24, winners for multiple races in the state were not announced until Nov. 23 because of the ranked-choice voting system.

Alaska voters approved ranked-choice elections in 2020. This election cycle marked its debut.

Under Alaska’s ranked-choice format, there are nonpartisan open primaries, and voters cast ballots for one candidate, regardless of party affiliation. The top four finishers advance to the general election.

Then in the general election, voters rank the four candidates, from their top choice to their fourth option.

If no candidate surpasses 50 percent on first-choice votes, the election moves to a ranked-choice tabulation where the candidate with the fewest votes is removed and those votes are shifted to the second choice.

Tabulation continues until two candidates remain, and the person with the most votes wins.

On the morning of Nov. 18, with 95 percent of the ballots counted, Tshibaka was ahead with 104,898 votes (43.28 percent) compared to 104,470 (43.11 percent) for Murkowski.

By Jeff Louderback

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