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Close races in Anchorage election await results of absentee, questioned ballots

  • Author: Devin Kelly
  • Updated: December 2, 2017
  • Published April 5, 2017

Hundreds of absentee and questioned ballots have yet to be counted from Anchorage's Tuesday city election, which could tip the balance in several close races.

Deputy City Clerk Amanda Moser said in a Wednesday evening interview that elections officials were still processing ballots. She said she didn't have an exact count of how many remain, adding that officials had not yet opened bags containing questioned ballots, and some absentee ballots were still coming in by mail. 

Moser said 400 voters cast absentee in-person ballots Tuesday at Anchorage City Hall, the busiest of the four in-person absentee locations.

The city has also averaged between 1,600 and 2,000 questioned ballots in recent years. A ballot can be questioned for a variety of reasons, such as a voter's name not appearing on the precinct register or because the voter was in the wrong precinct or failed to have identification.

The fate of one ballot proposition was entirely unclear Wednesday. Proposition 7, which sought to expand the city's parks and recreation service area to the entire Anchorage Hillside, passed areawide in the original service area on election night. That result was posted to the city website.

But Moser said officials had not yet counted votes cast by several hundred residents of Bear Valley, Stuckagain Heights and other parts of the Anchorage Hillside that would pay higher taxes as a result of the proposition. Those residents also have to approve the measure, in what's called a "dual majority" vote.

Moser said she expected to know more about the outcome of that proposition on Thursday.

Other close races could be decided by the outstanding ballots. On Wednesday, only 58 votes separated Andy Holleman from his main challenger, Kay Schuster, in the race for School Board Seat D.

That may seem like deja vu — last year's election also had a close school board race involving Schuster. Schuster had a narrow lead in a 2016 school board race with 98 percent precincts reporting by the night of the election. But as the municipality tallied the remaining votes over the following days, her rival, Starr Marsett, pulled ahead and won by 67 votes.

On election day, voters had narrowly approved an Anchorage Police Department bond. Barely 300 votes separated the "yes" side from the "no" side.

Meanwhile, Turnagain Arm residents were sharply divided on a special ballot proposal to tax themselves for police protection. There were 69 votes in favor of the proposal and 60 against it.

Moser couldn't say exactly when the close races would be decided. But she said that would come before the election is set to be certified by the Anchorage Assembly on April 18.

Alaska Dispatch News reporter Tegan Hanlon contributed to this report.