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Close Alaska Legislature races await a count of the rest of the ballots

  • Author: Devin Kelly
  • Updated: November 9, 2016
  • Published November 9, 2016

Ballots cast in the 2016 general election in Alaska were still trickling into Juneau by plane and mail Wednesday, and officials said it wasn't yet known how many remain uncounted, or when tight races will be resolved.

In the Legislature's closest race, for a House seat from the lower Hillside, Republican Charisse Millett, the incumbent, holds a 45-vote lead against Democratic challenger Pat Higgins, an Anchorage School Board member.

Alaska Division of Elections State chief Josie Bahnke said at least 103 absentee votes and 46 early votes are outstanding in that race. Officials didn't yet know how many questioned ballots were pending.

Absentee ballot numbers are expected to grow, she added. To be valid, an absentee ballot has to be postmarked no later than Election Day.

"We're going to get more, but this is a snapshot in time," she said.

Two of the state's 442 precincts hadn't yet reported results as of late Wednesday afternoon.

Phones were down Election Day in Hughes, a tiny rural community 210 air miles northwest of Fairbanks, and officials couldn't call in results. The ballots had to be mailed to Juneau for counting, Bahnke said.

The Southeast community of Klawock, on Prince of Wales Island, had problems uploading results from their machines to the division's computer server. Instead, officials there mailed the memory card to Juneau, Bahnke said.

On Thursday, regional voting review boards meet to start reviewing absentee and questioned ballots.

Bahnke said it'll be clearer at the end of the day Thursday how many questioned ballots are outstanding. The number of uncounted absentee in-person ballots should be known early next week, she said. A ballot may be questioned if a person votes in a precinct in which he or she is not on the rolls.

The state issued about 30,000 by-mail absentee ballots. Nearly 21,000 have come back. Bahnke couldn't say how many have been counted, and a state absentee ballot manager wasn't available for comment late Wednesday.

The state also doesn't yet know how many more will be returned, Bahnke said. Overseas ballots can be received as late as Nov. 23. Officials hope to certify election results Nov. 29, three weeks after Election Day polls closed.

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