Alaska Race May Hinge on Mystery Vote

The ballot was found on a table at a voting precinct
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 30, 2018 3:03 PM CST
Mystery Ballot May Break Tie in Alaska Race
Alaska State Review Board ballot examiner Stuart Sliter reacts when a loose ballot from a tied state House race is found without an envelope in Juneau, Alaska.   (James Brooks/Anchorage Daily News via AP)

Control of Alaska state government, at least for the next two years, could hinge on a mystery ballot that an election worker found on a table in a Fairbanks voting precinct more than three weeks ago. The uncounted ballot could break a tie in an Alaska state House race, the AP reports. A decision on whether to count it is expected Friday. The elections office has said the ballot appeared to be marked for Democrat Kathryn Dodge. Officials said the ballot was found by an election worker on a precinct table on Election Day in a gray secrecy sleeve. It was not counted at the time and was included among ballot materials that arrived in Juneau last Friday for an election review. Officials were investigating the ballot before deciding whether to count it.

Dodge was tied with Republican Bart LeBon with 2,661 votes apiece heading into a recount Friday. Dodge attorney Patrick Munson, in a letter to elections director Josie Bahnke, said Alaska law sets a high threshold for disqualifying a ballot. He said it's likely this ballot was validly issued and voted and should be counted for Dodge. He also wants the officials to count for Dodge a ballot with ovals marked for her and LeBon but with an "X'' over the oval next to LeBon's name. That ballot wasn't counted for either candidate. LeBon said he expects a legal challenge from whoever loses the recount. If the race remains tied after the recount and possible legal challenges, state law calls for a winner to be determined "by lot." A coin toss decided a tied House race in 2006. "I've come too far to have a coin toss settle this," LeBon said.

(Read more Alaska stories.)

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