Alaska Election Reform Explainer

Brochures are displayed at the Alaska Division of Elections office in Anchorage, Alaska, detailing changes to elections this year. 

(The Center Square) - The U.S. Department of Justice said Monday it plans to monitor four voting jurisdictions in Alaska for compliance with federal voting rights laws. The locations are Bethel, Dillingham, Kusilvak, and Sitka.

The DOJ is monitoring 64 jurisdictions in 24 states during Election Day and early voting. The agency has monitored certain polling places since the 1964 Voting Rights Act was passed, according to a DOJ news release. Personnel from the DOJ's Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorneys' offices will monitor. 

Alaskans are deciding who will serve as governor and who will represent them in the U.S. Senate and in Alaska's at-large congressional district.

For the gubernatorial race, Incumbent Gov. Mike Dunleavy is challenged by fellow Republican Charlie Pierce, Democrat Les Gara and former governor Bill Walker, who is running as an independent.

Candidates for the U.S. House race are Incumbent Democrat Rep. Mary Peltola, Republicans Nicholas Begich III, Sarah Palin, and Libertarian Chris Bye.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski is challenged by Democratic Patricia Chesbro and Trump-endorsed Republican candidate Kelly Tshibaka. Republican Buzz Kelley also advanced from the primary. He withdrew from the race and endorsed Tshibaka.

Votes will be cast using ranked choice voting, which was approved by voters during the 2020 election. 

Ranked choice voting means voters will rank candidates in their order of preference, though they do not have to rank all of the candidates if they don't want to. If they prefer, voters can simply rank their favorite and leave the rest blank, or they may rank all choices in order of preference.

If a candidate gets 50% plus one vote, then they win. If not, the candidate with the fewest votes gets eliminated. Those who voted for the eliminated candidate will then have their vote go toward their next choice and the votes are counted again. The process continues until a winner emerges.