Supporters of Alaska Ballot Measure 1 wave signs urging a “yes” vote on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, on Pioneer Avenue in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Supporters of Alaska Ballot Measure 1 wave signs urging a “yes” vote on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, on Pioneer Avenue in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Alaska started counting absentee ballots on Tuesday

Absentee ballot counting for Homer area didn’t start until Wednesday

Update: The story includes new figures for ballots yet to be counted in Districts 31 and 32.

As Alaska began counting absentee ballots on Tuesday, election results statewide and in some races became clearer this week. However, with counting in some districts not started until Wednesday — including House Districts 31 and 32 — the outcome in some races remains unsettled.

According to preliminary results, Rep. Sarah Vance (R-Homer) and Sen. Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak) are leading in their respective races for reelection. Vance leads challenger Kelly Cooper 70.10% to 29.68%, while Stevens leads Alaska Independence Party candidate Greg Madden 63.29% to 36.43%. No new ballots have been tallied since Nov. 4 and more absentee mail-in ballots have been received.

At the statewide level, Sen. Dan Sullivan leads Dr. Al Gross and is projected to win reelection, according to the New York Times. The Times also projected Wednesday that Trump would win Alaska’s three Electoral College votes. In the latest count as of Tuesday evening, Sullivan has 149,669 votes or 57.42% to Gross with 97,608 votes or 37.45%, a 52,061 margin. Gross would have to receive more than 57% of the remaining votes to be tallied to pull ahead of Sullivan.

Rep. Don Young is ahead with 150,443 votes, or 57.9%, to challenger Alyse Galvin’s 108,269 votes or 41.7%, a 42,174 vote margin. Galvin would have to win 46% of the remaining votes to pull ahead of Young. Galvin picked up almost 6% of the vote when absentee ballots were counted Tuesday.

Alaskans are also favoring “no” votes on both statewide ballot measures. Compared to last week’s preliminary tallies, with more absentee votes counted, the leads in some of the races grew smaller.

As of Nov. 10, 193,477 absentee ballots and other ballots had been voted and returned statewide, according to the Alaska Division of Elections. That number includes early vote in person, absentee in-person, special needs ballots, federal write-in absentee ballots, and those returned via mail, email and fax.

Some voters in the state were able to vote early and in person. Of the total 53,229 early votes cast statewide, 36,268 of them were cast before Oct. 29 and got counted on Election Day.

That left more than 157,000 absentee and early votes left to be counted starting on Tuesday. The division counted about 70,000 of those ballots on Tuesday and released updated results Tuesday night. There are about 90,000 ballots left to count, the division announced on Twitter.

The division did not start counting any ballots for House District 31 (Homer, Anchor Point, Ninilchik, Fritz Creek, Kasilof, part of Soldotna and Funny River) or House District 32 (Chiniak, Kodiak, Old Harbor, Ouzinkie, Port Lions, Tatitlek, Tyonek, Seldovia, Cordova and Yakutat) on Tuesday. Ballots from those two districts, which together make up Stevens’ Senate District P, were set to begin being counted later this week.

In the District 31 race for House Representative, there were about 150 more absentee ballots received by the state than of the total cast on Election Day.

As of Thursday morning, the state had received and had yet to count 6,640 absentee ballots and 306 questioned ballots from District 31. That includes absentee-in person ballots, mail-in ballots, ballots returned online or by fax, and special-needs ballots. It also has 52 early ballots to count.

For District 32, the other district included in Senate District P now represented by Stevens, the state has received 4,002 absentee and 207 questioned ballots. None of those have been counted yet.

The target date for the election to be certified in Alaska is Nov. 25.

Absentee ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 can still be counted if they’re received by Nov. 13 if mailed within the United States and by Nov. 18 if mailed from outside the U.S.

The reason for the week-long delay before the division started counting absentee ballots has to do with verifying them, according to Tiffany Montemayor, public relations manager for the division. To prevent duplicate voting, officials check Election Day precinct registers with absentee ballots received, she wrote in an email. Ballots are logged as received when they arrive at Division of Elections offices.

With all precincts reporting in District 31, in early results Vance is leading with 3,711 votes compared to Cooper’s 1,571. According to division results broken down by district, Vance carried every voting precinct except for Kachemak/Fritz Creek, which Cooper carried with 305 votes to Vance’s 303.

In the Senate District P race in District 31, Stevens had 3,196 votes compared to 1,939 for Madden, with Stevens leading in all precincts. In District 32, Stevens had 2,533 votes compared to 1,350 for Madden. Madden led in the Kodiak No. 2, Tatitlek, Tyonek and Yakutat precincts.

Updated results as of Nov. 10. In some districts absentee ballots have not yet been tallied.

U.S. Senator, 100% of precincts reporting

Dan Sullivan: 149,669, 57.42%

Al Gross: 97,608, 37.45%

John Wayne Howe: 12.916, 4.96%

U.S. Representative, 100% of precincts reporting

Don Young: 150,443, 57.95%

Alyse Galvin: 108,269, 41.71%

Ballot Measure 1, 100% of precincts reporting

Yes: 100,011, 39.30%

No: 54,490, 60.70%

Ballot Measure 2, 100% of precincts reporting

Yes: 120,639, 47.51%

No: 133,264, 52.49%

Alaska House of Representatives District 31, all precincts reporting

Sarah Vance: 3,711, 70.10%

Kelly Cooper: 1,571, 29.68%

Alaska Senate District P, all precincts reporting

Gary Stevens: 5,729, 63.35%

Greg Madden: 3,289, 36.37%

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