Alaska in Brief

Anchorage senator revives presidential popular vote bill in Alaska Legislature

By: - February 8, 2023 11:59 am

Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, talks with fellow senators Tuesday, May 10, 2022, on the floor of the Alaska State Senate in Juneau, Alaska. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, has revived a proposal that would have Alaska join a coalition of states seeking to elect the president by a popular vote instead of the Electoral College. 

Senate Bill 61, introduced Tuesday, would require Alaska’s three Electoral College voters to vote in favor of the presidential candidates with the most votes nationwide. 

The bill would take effect only when states with at least 270 combined Electoral College votes agree to do the same.

To date, 16 states with 195 Electoral College votes have agreed to join a voluntary compact on the issue.

Patrick Rosenstiel, a senior consultant for National Popular Vote, a group supporting the bill, is in the Capitol this week and said that switching to a popular vote would require presidential candidates to campaign in all 50 states, not just a handful of battleground states with large numbers of Electoral College votes.

Rosenstiel said there is no conflict between the popular-vote compact and Alaska’s ranked choice voting system.

A Republican presidential candidate has won the popular vote only once since 1988, though the National Popular Vote campaign notes that the margin has been close multiple times.

Alaska legislators proposed popular-vote bills beginning as far back as 2007 but neither chamber has passed any.

The most recent prior edition was introduced in 2017 and one House committee passed it before it died at the end of the 30th Legislature. Another proposal, introduced in 2016, was never heard in committee. 

Wielechowski’s proposal has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee and awaits a hearing.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect the correct number of states that have joined the compact.


Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

James Brooks
James Brooks

James Brooks is a longtime Alaska reporter, having previously worked at the Anchorage Daily News, Juneau Empire, Kodiak Mirror and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. A graduate of Virginia Tech, he is married to Caitlyn Ellis, owns a house in Juneau and has a small sled dog named Barley. He can be contacted at [email protected]