Stevens overtakes Cox in Senate race as absentee ballots are counted

Division of Elections began counting absentee ballots Tuesday; results are still not final

Sen. Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak) now leads challenger John Cox of Anchor Point in the Republican Primary race for the Alaska Senate District P seat in a reversal of last week’s preliminary election results.

Cox had led Stevens by the exact same number of votes after election night — 69 — on Aug. 18.

The division started counting absentee ballots on Tuesday, but election results are not yet final. According to the division’s website, the State Review Board was scheduled to conduct verification of ballots on Wednesday, and this Friday is the deadline for the division to receive absentee ballots mailed from elsewhere within the U.S., from overseas and from the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa. Those ballots can be counted as long as they were postmarked by the Aug. 18 election day.

As they stood on Tuesday with the addition of some absentee ballots, the election results show Stevens, the incumbent, in the lead with 1,695 votes, or 51% of the votes. Cox had 1,626 votes, or 48.9%. Soldotna’s Greg Madden, who ran in the Alaska Independence Party, had 1,727 votes and ran unopposed in that party.

District P encompasses both House District 31 on the Kenai Peninsula and 32 on Kodiak Island. According to the division of elections, 2,108 absentee, early and questioned ballots had been accepted in full for District 31 as of Tuesday, and 39 had been partially accepted.

In District 32, the division accepted 868 absentee, early and questioned ballots in full, and 24 in part as of Tuesday.

Stevens, a former educator, moved to Alaska in 1970 and has been a member of the Alaska Senate since 2003. He served in the Alaska House of Representatives from 2001-03. He chairs the education committee and has been chair of the legislative council committee since 2015.

Cox, originally from Panama, made a run for the District 31 seat in the Alaska House of Representatives in 2016 and 2018. The Senate District P seat would be his first term in the Alaska Legislature, should he win.

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