Al Gross, left, an independent running for Alaska’s U.S. House seat, poses beside his wife, Monica Gross, on Saturday, June 11, 2022, in Juneau, Alaska. Gross is one of 48 candidates in Saturday’s special primary for the House seat left vacant following the death in March of U.S. Rep. Don Young, who’d held the seat for 49 years. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

Al Gross, left, an independent running for Alaska’s U.S. House seat, poses beside his wife, Monica Gross, on Saturday, June 11, 2022, in Juneau, Alaska. Gross is one of 48 candidates in Saturday’s special primary for the House seat left vacant following the death in March of U.S. Rep. Don Young, who’d held the seat for 49 years. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

AP calls 4th primary spot for Peltola; Palin still leads

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Republican Nick Begich and Al Gross fill the other three spots

The Associated Press has called Alaska’s fourth spot in the special primary election for Mary Peltola. The former democratic state lawmaker will advance to the state’s Aug. 16 special general election along with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Republican Nick Begich and Al Gross, an orthopedic surgeon who previously ran for U.S. Senate. The AP called the first three spots earlier this week.

Special primary election results updated by the Alaska Division of Elections on Friday show that Palin continues to lead statewide. As of 2:20 p.m. Friday, about 150,000 votes — representing about 25.55% of Alaska’s registered voters — have been counted. Of those, Palin received about 27.59% of votes, followed by Begich with 19.27%, Gross with 12.65% and Peltola with 9.44%.

Locally, Palin holds a much larger lead over other candidates as of regional data last updated at 2:20 p.m. Friday.

In House District 29, which covers the northern Kenai Peninsula and includes Hope, Nikiski, Cooper Landing and Seward, the Division of Elections has counted 4,689 ballots, representing about 28.78% of the district’s 16,294 registered voters. Palin leads with 43.86% of votes counted, followed by Begich with 21.46%, Gross with 10.26% and Peltola with 4.9%

In House District 30, which covers Kenai and Soldotna, the Division of Elections has counted 3,986 ballots, representing about 24.5% of the district’s 16,773 registered voters. Palin continues to have a solid lead over opponents, with 41.76% of votes, followed by Begich with 22.57%, Gross with 8.61% and Tara Sweeney with 4.78%.

In House District 31, which covers the southern Kenai Peninsula and includes Kasilof, Ninilchik, Anchor Point and Homer, the Division of Elections has counted 6,303 ballots, representing about 34.29% of the district’s 18,380 registered voters. Palin secured 32.46% of votes, followed by Begich with 19.55%, Gross with 18.4% and Peltola with 9.04%.

All ballots postmarked on or before 8 p.m. on June 11 will be counted. The first ballot count took place on June 11, the second ballot took place Wednesday, June 15 and the third ballot count took place Friday, June 17. Tuesday, June 21 is the deadline to receive absentee ballots and the final ballot count will take place that day.

Alaska’s 2022 Special Primary Election is the first to use a nonpartisan top four primary structure, under which the election’s top four vote-getters all advance to the special general election on Aug. 16, regardless of party affiliation. The special general election in August will be the first in Alaska to use ranked choice voting, under which voters can choose more than one candidate in ranked order.

Changes to Alaska’s electoral systems were approved by voters as Ballot Measure No. 2, which passed narrowly in 2020 with 50.55% of votes cast. That measure created an open primary system and ranked choice general election and aimed to increase transparency about the use of “dark money” — or campaign funding from undisclosed sources — in Alaska elections.

The ranked choice ballot shows a grid of bubbles, with one row for each candidate and one column for preference order. Voters fill in the bubble in the “1st Choice” column that corresponds to their first-choice candidate. Voters then move to the second column and fill in the bubble that corresponds to their second-choice candidate, and so on. Voters can rank up to four candidates, or just rank one, two or three candidates.

If a candidate receives more than 50% of the first-choice votes, that candidate would be declared the winner of the election.

If no candidate receives more than 50% of the first-choice votes, the candidate who received the least number of first-choice votes is eliminated. Then, the voters who ranked the eliminated candidate as their first choice would have their second-choice candidate votes distributed to the remaining candidates. The process will continue until one candidate emerges with more than 50% of the votes.

Preliminary election results and more information about Alaska’s 2022 Special Primary Election can be found on the Alaska Division of Elections website at elections.alaska.gov.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

Nick Begich, a Republican seeking the sole U.S. House seat in Alaska, speaks during a forum for candidates, Thursday, May 12, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. Belgich and Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin have advanced to the August special election for the state’s only U.S. House seat. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)

Nick Begich, a Republican seeking the sole U.S. House seat in Alaska, speaks during a forum for candidates, Thursday, May 12, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. Belgich and Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin have advanced to the August special election for the state’s only U.S. House seat. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)

Sarah Palin, a Republican seeking the sole U.S. House seat in Alaska, speaks during a forum for candidates, Thursday, May 12, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. Palin and Republican Nick Begich have advanced to the August special election for the state’s only U.S. House seat. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)

Sarah Palin, a Republican seeking the sole U.S. House seat in Alaska, speaks during a forum for candidates, Thursday, May 12, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. Palin and Republican Nick Begich have advanced to the August special election for the state’s only U.S. House seat. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)

Mary Peltola, a Democrat seeking the sole U.S. House seat in Alaska, speaks during a forum for candidates, Thursday, May 12, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska.Voters are whittling down the list of 48 candidates running for Alaska’s only U.S. House seat, with the top four vote-getters in a special primary on Saturday, June 11, advancing to an August special election. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)

Mary Peltola, a Democrat seeking the sole U.S. House seat in Alaska, speaks during a forum for candidates, Thursday, May 12, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska.Voters are whittling down the list of 48 candidates running for Alaska’s only U.S. House seat, with the top four vote-getters in a special primary on Saturday, June 11, advancing to an August special election. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)

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