WASILLA, Alaska — Republican Nick Begich isn’t a fan of the state’s new ranked choice voting system, but he said he will still accept the results of Tuesday’s special election in Alaska.
“I will absolutely accept these election results. I have confidence in our election process here in the state of Alaska,” Begich told NBC News on Monday. “There’s always room for improvement. But at the end of the day, you know, the voters will speak and we’re very confident they’re going to send me down to Washington, D.C. on their behalf.”
The special election to replace the late GOP Rep. Don Young is the state’s first test of its new ranked choice voting system where voters rank the candidates, and a write-in candidate if they choose, in order of preference. If a candidate wins a majority of votes on the first round, he or she wins the race.
But if no candidate receives a majority of the vote, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated, and his or her supporters’ second-choice votes will go to the remaining candidates. The rounds continue until two candidates are left, and the candidate with the most votes wins.
Begich faces former Gov. Sarah Palin, former Democratic state Rep. Mary Peltola and multiple write-in candidates in the race. Palin and former President Donald Trump, who has endorsed Palin, have criticized the new voting system, with Trump describing it at a recent rally as a “total rigged deal.”
Although Begich said he would accept the election results, he was critical of the new system.
“I was not a supporter of rank choice voting. I think it provides a lot of confusion to the voters,” Begich said. “There’s a lot of questions right now circulating — what’s the strategy, how should we go about doing this? And I don’t think those are questions we should be asking going into the polling booths.”
Begich also broke with many in his party who echo Trump's false claims that the 2020 election was stolen.
Pressed on whether President Joe Biden was legitimately elected, Begich said, "Absolutely."
"It’s time for us to move forward. We have to move forward," Begich added. "We’ve got to bring people back together as a part of our effort to win that presidency in 2024. That’s what I’m focused on."