Palin gains early lead in special US House primaries in Alaska

Initial results released by the state Division of Elections included 108,729 votes. It was not immediately clear how many ballots were pending. The division reported Saturday night that it had received some 139,000 ballots so far. The ballots had to be postmarked by Saturday.

The top four vote winners, regardless of party affiliation, will advance to a special election in August using ranked-choice voting. The winner of the special election will serve out the remainder of Young’s term, which ends in January. Young died in March at the age of 88.

This election was unlike any other the state has seen, packed with candidates and conducted primarily by mail. This was also the first election under a voter-approved system in 2020 that ends party primaries and uses ranked-choice voting in general elections.

Saturday marked the first vote count; state election officials plan additional counts on Wednesday and Friday, and a final count on June 21. They have set themselves the goal of June 25 to certify the contest.

Palin, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate, released a statement expressing gratitude “to all my wonderful supporters who voted to make Alaska great again.”

Earlier Saturday, the Alaska Supreme Court reversed and vacated a lower court order that barred state election officials from certifying the results of special primaries until visually impaired voters had a “full and fair” opportunity to participate.

The state attorneys had interpreted friday order of High Court Judge Una Gandbhir for preventing election officials from completing the vote as scheduled on Saturday. They asked the supreme court to overturn the order.

The ruling came in a case brought days earlier by Robert Corbisier, executive director of the Alaska State Human Rights Commission. Corbisier sued state election officials on behalf of a person identified as BL, a registered voter in Anchorage with a visual impairment.

The sheer number of candidates left some voters overwhelmed, and many of the candidates themselves faced challenges setting up a campaign on the fly and trying to make an impression on voters in a short period of time. The deadline for the presentation of candidates was April 1.

Relatively few candidates were running for the position before Young’s death. Begich was among the first participants; he launched his campaign last fall and worked to win support from the Conservatives. The businessman, who comes from a family of prominent Democrats, was endorsed by the Alaska Republican Party.

Peltola, a former state legislator from Bethel who has been involved in fishing issues, said earlier this week that she entered the race with little name recognition, but believes she has changed that and has momentum behind her candidacy.

Palin’s candidacy marks her first run for elected office since she resigned as governor midway through her term in 2009. Some national political figures endorsed her this campaign, including Trump, who participated in a “telearly” for her and said that Palin “would fight harder than anyone I can think of,” particularly on energy issues.

Palin tried to reassure voters that she is serious about her candidacy and that she is committed to Alaska.

During the campaign, opponents criticized that. Gross, an orthopedic surgeon who ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate in 2020, said Palin “gave up Alaska.” Begich and Sweeney insisted that they are not giving up.

Gross, in an email to supporters during the campaign, said Palin and Begich are candidates who will be tough to beat, but said he is “ready and able to take on this fight.”

Sweeney was Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the US Department of the Interior under Trump and was endorsed by a group representing the leaders of the state’s influential regional Alaska Native corporations.

She said she understands the “pressure cooker” vibe of Washington, D.C.

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