Palin’s CPAC Campaigns Against the Election System That Paid Her a House Seat

  • Sarah Palin came to CPAC in Maryland to speak out against ranked-choice voting.
  • The system allows voters to rank multiple candidates and is designed to ensure that the winners have majority support.
  • But Alaska elected a Democrat in part because of the system, and now conservatives want to get rid of it.

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland – Among the far-right conservative influencers, politicians, and personalities at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the one-time Republican vice-presidential candidate who recently lost the House. race to Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola.

Palin, despite her lasting impact on American politics, did not have a formal speaking slot at the conference.

But he could be seen wandering the halls on Thursday, stopping for selfies and taking time to speak at media booths set up on the sides of the conference’s main hall.

As it turned out, Palin traveled to the conference to help promote a new effort in Alaska to repeal the state’s ranked-choice system, which was first used for federal elections last year.

Palin spoke at a "New Federal State of China" media booth at CPAC on March 3, 2023.

Palin speaks at a “New Federal State of China” media booth at CPAC on March 3, 2023.

Bryan Metzger/Insider

Art Mathias, the leader of a group called “Alaskans for Honest Elections,” told CPAC Insider that Palin “could have easily won” her election if the system hadn’t been implemented. Palin, he said, serves as the group’s national spokesperson.

Alaskans for Honest Elections is seeking to repeal the new system, and must gather tens of thousands of signatures across the state to put the ballot measure in front of Alaska voters.

So what is Mathias doing at CPAC, thousands of miles from Alaska?

“Raising money, making contacts, informing people,” Mathias said. “Alaska is the center of it. If we kill it in Alaska, we kill it in America.”

‘We need our parties’

Ranked-choice voting allows voters to rank multiple candidates for office, creating a system where voters can choose not only their first choice for the job, but several other candidates they want. can win.

After the initial results, the candidates who received the lowest number of votes will be eliminated and their votes will be redistributed among the other candidates based on the voters’ ranking. This continues until one candidate exceeds 50% of the vote.

Proponents argue that the system leads to less divisive elections – because of the need to find second, third, and fourth votes among supporters of other candidates – and ensures that the winner of the election has the support of majority of voters.

Alaskans for Honest Elections will have a booth at CPAC this year.

Alaskans for Honest Elections will have a booth at CPAC this year.

Bryan Metzger/Insider

In theory, the system should not favor one party over another.

But in practice, Republicans have seen their chances stymied by ranked-choice voting systems in Alaska and Maine, fueling dissent.

Mathias described the system as an effort backed by out-of-state interests and allies of Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who has historically angered the Republican base, to avoid the “healthy” process of party primaries.

“We need our parties to vet candidates so we know who they really are,” said Mathias.

Mathias also turns the argument of its proponents on its head, arguing that ranked-choice voting actually increases divisiveness. He cited the feud between the two Republican candidates — Palin and fellow GOP candidate Nick Begich — that allowed Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola who will prevail in the special election in August and the general election in November.

A group called "Stop the RCV" will also have a table at CPAC this year.

A group called “StopRCV” will also have a table at CPAC this year.

Bryan Metzger/Insider

Conservatives in Washington have begun to mobilize against ranked-choice voting as well, with Republicans in Congress criticizing the system.

As recently as January, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy trashed the system in a podcast appearance with Donald Trump Jr.

“Someone gets the most votes, and doesn’t win!” said McCarthy. “So if you come in 3rd, you win. What? ‘I got a lot of second votes, I got a lot of 3rd votes — what does that mean?'”

At CPAC, just steps away from Alaskans for Honest Elections’ booth, another group opposed to ranked-choice voting, “” set up its own table — complete with sunglasses, stickers, stress balls, and literature to hand out. to curious CPAC attendees.

Backed by Heritage Action and Save our States — a group dedicated to defending the legitimacy of the Electoral College — StopRCV is an effort to educate conservatives about the “dangers” of ranked-choice voting.

In arguing against the system, StopRCV and Alaskans for Honest Elections focused on the perceived complexity of ranked-choice voting — along with the fact that voters who don’t rank each candidate are at risk of having their ballots ignored if some candidates. their rank was abolished.

“That’s not a democracy. That’s not how a republic should work, throwing your ballot in the trash,” said Lindsey McSparrin, a StopRCV volunteer.

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