Uncounted ballot investigated in tied Alaska House race

JUNEAU — State election officials said Monday they are trying to determine whether a ballot apparently marked for Democrat Kathryn Dodge in a tied state House race should be counted.

The race between Dodge and Republican Bart LeBon was certified as a tie Monday. But Josie Bahnke, the director of the Division of Elections, told reporters the ballot could still be counted, based on an investigation into its origin.

She said the ballot appears to have been marked for Dodge.

It was in a bin with so-called questioned ballots though it was determined that the ballot itself was not a questioned ballot, she said.

Voters in certain situations are asked to vote a questioned ballot, including if their name is not on the precinct register. They must fill out an envelope, which their voted ballot is placed into. Information provided on the envelope is used to determine the voter’s eligibility.

A recount is scheduled for Friday.

Dodge and LeBon are vying to replace Fairbanks Democratic Rep. Scott Kawasaki, who won a state Senate seat. The outcome of the House race will be critical in deciding control of the chamber.

LeBon said he has questions about how the ballot was handled. Questions about other ballots also could be raised during the recount, he said.

He expects the results of the recount, should one of the two lose, to be challenged, he said.

Bahnke said officials asked the precinct chair Monday for a written response to some questions and hope to speak with precinct workers about any recollections they have about the ballot.

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