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Candidate alleges ballot count errors in Alaska House race

Alaska House District 1 candidate Democrat Kathryn Dodge, right, watches the election recount at the Department of Elections' Juneau office on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. (Michael Penn/The Juneau Empire via AP)

JUNEAU — A Democrat challenging the results of an Alaska House race said errors made by election officials threaten to deprive her of the seat.

Kathryn Dodge, through her attorney, filed an appeal Wednesday with the Alaska Supreme Court seeking a resolution of the matter by Jan. 14, the day before the legislative session begins.

The filing argues that the "lawful winner" cannot be sworn in until the court makes a ruling.

A recount in the Fairbanks House race showed Dodge losing by one vote to Republican Bart LeBon. However, the filing claims mistakes resulted in a certified result that "does not represent the will of the qualified voters of House District 1."

Control of the House remains at stake.

LeBon said Thursday the appeal opens the door for him to have his say on some ballots on which he thought the Division of Elections made errors.

Cori Mills, a spokeswoman for the Department of Law, said by email that the department has confidence in the election division's decisions "throughout the labor-intensive process of certifying the House District 1 election."

Mills said the department is reviewing the appeal and waiting to see how the court wants to proceed.

Dodge's filing states that election officials wrongly excluded two ballots, including one with ovals filled in next to both candidates and an "X'' through the oval next to LeBon. Dodge contends she should have gotten credit for that ballot.

The filing also claims the Division of Elections incorrectly changed its record of one voter's residence to a non-residential mailing address outside the district. It says the move was based on the voter's application for a check from the Alaska Permanent Fund. The voter is a resident of the district and his ballot should have been counted, according to the filing.

The appeal raises residency questions involving two other ballots it claims were wrongly counted.

Dodge wants a special master appointed to hear evidence regarding voter qualifications for three of the ballots. She wants the court to set a briefing schedule for the parties to lay out their positions on the ballot with an "X."

LeBon said he has been taking steps to prepare for taking office.

“I’ve got to move forward,” he said. “The timeline’s too narrow.”

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