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Alaska Legislature

Absentee ballots flip some results in Alaska’s legislative primary, but more votes remain uncounted

  • Author: James Brooks
  • Updated: August 25
  • Published August 25

Lisa Torkelson works to count early voting ballots Tuesday morning. Workers at the Division of Elections Region II office in Anchorage count early voting and absentee ballots on August 25, 2020. (Marc Lester / ADN)

Nine of the Alaska Legislature’s Republican incumbents trailed after election day, but Sens. Gary Stevens of Kodiak, John Coghill of North Pole and Natasha von Imhof of Anchorage all rebounded on Tuesday, either taking a lead or erasing most of their deficit as the Alaska Division of Elections counted thousands of absentee, questioned and early ballots. Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, continues to trail by a wide margin.

In the House, where five incumbents trailed after election day, the new count did not change any leaders.

Thousands more ballots are slated to be counted later this week, and the final results will decide who will make the ballot in the Nov. 3 general election.

Entering Tuesday, the state said 54,245 early, absentee and questioned ballots were uncounted, and 32,607 of those ballots were counted Tuesday. Additional absentee ballots can arrive as late as Friday and will still be counted if they were postmarked by election day, Aug. 18.

This year’s primary election has seen record interest in absentee voting, and the division counted only those absentee ballots that arrived through Aug. 17.

“We had to make a cutoff to be able to start opening (ballot envelopes),” said Tiffany Montemayor, public relations manager for the Alaska Division of Elections.

• In Kodiak, Stevens trailed Republican challenger John “Bear” Cox by 69 votes after election day. Tuesday’s count included ballots from only half the Senate district, but the new votes precisely flipped the results. Stevens now leads by 69 votes.

• In North Pole, Coghill trailed challenger Robert Myers by 126 votes after election day. Myers’ lead shrank to eight votes after Tuesday’s count.

• Von Imhof trailed Stephen Duplantis by 85 votes after election day. She now leads by 197.

In the House of Representatives:

• Republican Reps. Sharon Jackson, Mark Neuman, Gabrielle LeDoux, Chuck Kopp and Jennifer Johnston trailed at the end of election day and are still behind.

• Rep. Steve Thompson of Fairbanks led by only 13 votes at the end of election day but extended his lead.

• Kathy Henslee and Connie Dougherty are tied at 585 votes apiece in House District 23. The winner faces Rep. Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage, in the general election.

• In the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, led challenger Jesse Sumner by 79 votes on election day and 155 on Tuesday.

• Only a handful of additional ballots were counted Tuesday in the state’s rural House districts, including House Districts 6, 9, 32, and 36-40.

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