Dave Bronson maintained a solid lead over opponent Forrest Dunbar in the runoff election for Anchorage mayor, preliminary election results posted Wednesday show.
With 45,639 total votes, or 50.68%, Bronson was ahead of Dunbar by 1,221 votes on Wednesday afternoon. Dunbar had 44,418 votes and 49.32% of the vote.
Bronson’s lead in the runoff race has grown since last Wednesday, when he pulled ahead of Dunbar. On election night, last Tuesday, Dunbar was initially ahead by a thin margin of 114 votes.
An additional 427 ballots were included in Wednesday’s election results, for a total of 90,190 ballots counted so far. Bronson’s lead grew by nine votes.
Bronson has not yet proclaimed victory and Dunbar has not yet conceded.
The Bronson campaign when reached by text said they are not planning to release a statement Wednesday about the most recent results but said “we are still encouraged by Dave’s numbers increasing.”
Though a few mail-in ballots are trickling in, ballot counting will soon come to a close. Regular ballots have until Friday to arrive at the elections center and be counted. Overseas ballots have until next Tuesday.
Municipal clerk Barbara Jones on Wednesday said that there are very few ballots left to count.
It is highly unlikely that Dunbar will recover enough votes to overcome Bronson’s lead.
As of Wednesday, the elections center has received an estimated 92,000 ballot envelopes. But not all of the ballots in those envelopes will make it into the final vote count.
Deputy clerk Erika McConnell said that more than 2,400 of those ballot envelopes were preliminarily challenged while being processed. That can happen for multiple reasons, including that the ballot envelope has not been signed, or that the signature does not match a voter’s legal signature on file.
Those voters are notified by letter that they must go through something called a “curing” process, which includes verifying their signature or identity with the elections office.
McConnell said that there is no way at this point to know how many ballot envelopes will be cured. Voters have until Friday at 4:30 p.m. to call the election center and complete the cure process, or they can attend the public session of canvass on Friday to cure their ballot envelope, she said.
At the election center on Wednesday, McConnell and Jones sat at a table with observers for each campaign and reviewed, one by one, questioned ballot envelopes.
Ballots are questioned for several reasons, including when Anchorage residents who weren’t registered to vote on time for the election submit a ballot. Sometimes a voter has moved to a new address or doesn’t live in Anchorage, or there’s another issue like a voter’s name is misspelled in the state’s voter registry.
The clerks review each one to determine whether or not it is a legal vote. At this point in the election, that process is taking the most time and attention.
“We need to make sure that every legal vote counts,” Jones said. “We’re focused on that.”
On Friday at 5 p.m., the election commission will hold its public session of canvass to review ballots, declaring which ballots will be rejected and which will be counted. Following the session, the commission will adopt a report on the results of its ballot review process, which is then submitted to the Assembly via the municipal clerk, according to municipal code.
The Assembly is scheduled to certify the results of the election during its meeting Tuesday.