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Alaska Senate race Murkowski vs Tshibaka: What is a ranked-choice runoff?

The race between two Republican candidates is set to drag on until there is one left though the result will not change the final Senate makeup.

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski talks with reporters on the corner of Seward Highway and Northern Lights Boulevard on election night.

Nearly all states have made their announcements of the winners in their elections. The most significant to not have done at this stage is Georgia with a runoff election set for 6 December which could decide who controls the Senate. Another state to not know one of their senators is Alaska though both favourites are part of the GOP.

Incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski is facing a big challenge from Kelly Tshibaka. Murkowski is somewhat of an old-school GOP politician in that she rejects a lot of the beliefs of the Trumpian-wing of the party. She voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson in April, one of only three Republicans to do so.

However, neither candidate is set to receive at least 50% of the vote, meaning a ranked-choice runoff will likely be taking place.

Catch up on election night:

In ranked-choice elections, voters choose their first person on the ballots, then rank the other candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes on the first count, the election moves to an instant runoff. Each subsequent round of voting the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated until someone gets an outright majority. If only two candidates remain then this will be the final round unless a bizarre occurence of both candidates receiving an identical amount of votes.

Where else are ranked-choices used?

Ranked-choice runoffs and elections in general are also rare in other countries. It is used in national elections in Australia and Slovenia.

It is also used in the state of Maine.