Democrat Mary Peltola defeated former Republican Gov. Sarah Palin in a special election for the state’s lone House seat, CNN reports.
Peltola, a former state lawmaker, defeated Palin 51.5% to 48.5% in the state’s first ranked-choice election.
Peltola pulled out the victory after Republican candidate Nick Begich’s votes were reallocated to voters’ second choices.
About half of Begich supporters ranked Palin as their second choice while more than 20% backed Peltola and more than 20% did not rank a second choice.
Peltola is the first Alaskan Native elected to Congress and will serve out the remainder of late Rep. Don Young’s term.
Peltola will face Palin, Begich and others in a general election for a full term in November.
Palin criticized the ranked-choice system on Wednesday, calling it a "new crazy, convoluted, confusing" system.
"Though we're disappointed in this outcome, Alaskans know I'm the last one who'll ever retreat. Instead, I'm going to reload. With optimism that Alaskans learn from this voting system mistake and correct it in the next election, let's work even harder to send an America First conservative to Washington in November," she said.
Praise for RCV:
Overall, election observers were pleased with the first test of the ranked-choice system.
"Alaskans are a pretty savvy bunch. We've elected independent governors, US senators with a write-in campaign. We're used to elections looking a little bit different than most places," Jason Grenn, the head of Alaskans for Better Elections, told CNN.
"Opening up the primaries, letting voters choose who they want to regardless of party affiliation, combined with ranked-choice voting -- it was really two different approaches that allow voters to have more power and have a louder voice," Grenn said. "They like to vote for the person, not the party."