Every vote is going to matter in determining the fate of a ballot measure that could change the way Alaskans vote.
As of Saturday afternoon’s absentee ballot release by the Alaska Division of Elections, Ballot Measure 2 was ahead by 1,566 votes.
Should Ballot Measure 2 pass, it would replace closed primaries with open primaries, institute a ranked-choice voting system, and create new financial disclosure rules to encourage more transparency. The changes would go into effect in 2022.
The measure was behind on election night, with 56% of voters saying no. But as the state has slowly tabulated the 150,000 or so absentee ballots over the past week, “yes” votes have overtaken the “no” votes.
“We made comments on the night of the election that said, ‘This is halftime, the election’s not over, you’re going to see dramatically different results once they actually start counting these absentee ballots,” Scott Kendall, legal counsel for Yes on 2 for Better Elections, said on Friday.
Kodiak voters largely supported the measure: 58% of District 32, which includes Kodiak, voted in favor, and 65% of absentee voters in the district backed the measure.
Across the state, the measure performed well in very rural areas, like far-western and northern locales, and in very urban ones, like Anchorage and Juneau. It has not done as well in the areas in between, such as Wasilla, Kenai, Palmer and Homer.
Kendall suspected that the areas where the measure did better were places with more independent voters.
“The less partisan an area is, the better we did,” he said.
“All along, we knew our base of support was the 62% of Alaskans that don’t go with either party. We had to win the vast majority of them to win, and it looks like we may have done just that.”
There were still around 17,000 absentee ballots left to count on Sunday morning. Several thousand of them are from the district that includes Nome, where the measure is already ahead. If the trend of absentee voters backing Ballot Measure 2 continues, then Alaskans will vote very differently the next time such a big election comes around.
The measure is the only thing left undecided on the ballot for Kodiak.
Independent Al Gross, who was running against Dan Sullivan for one of Alaska’s U.S. Senate seats, conceded the race to the Republican incumbent on Friday morning. In the ballots released on Friday, Gross had only picked up 41% of the vote compared to Sullivan’s 54%.
In an emailed press release from his campaign, Gross said he was proud of the race he ran and urged Alaskans to unify.
“I also want to congratulate Dan Sullivan on his victory. Even though we have passionate policy disagreements on what is best for Alaska, what is important now is that all Alaskans come together after a free and fair election,” Gross wrote.
Independent Alyse Galvin also conceded her U.S. House race against Republican Don Young on Friday. Galvin fared slightly better than Gross, but not by much. She registered 45% of votes to Young’s 55%.
“This morning I called Don Young to congratulate him on being elected to his 25th term inCongress,” Galvin said in a press release. “Unfortunately, his staff was not able to get him on the phone, and I left him a voicemail. I hope he gets well soon. … It is now time for all of us to come together to address the huge issues we face today, starting with coronavirus.”
Young announced on Thursday that he’d tested positive for COVID-19.
Ballot Measure 1, which would raise taxes on Alaska’s three largest oil fields, was failing decisively as of Sunday morning: 58% of counted votes have said no so far.