It’s a sign that every vote does count. A single mystery ballot found on a precinct table on Election Day but not counted then could decide a tied Alaska state House race and thwart Republican efforts to control the chamber and all of state government. The ballot arrived in Juneau last Friday in a secrecy sleeve in a bin with other ballot materials. Officials were investigating its origins and handling before deciding whether to tally it. “People kept calling it close,” Democrat candidate Kathryn Dodge said of the race for the House seat in Fairbanks. “I just didn’t know it was going to be squeaky.” A recount is scheduled for Friday after the race between Dodge and Republican Bart LeBon was previously certified as a tie, at 2,661 votes apiece. The uncounted ballot appears to be marked for Dodge.
The outcome will have big political implications. If LeBon wins, Republicans will control the state House in addition to the state Senate and the governor’s office. If Dodge wins, the House would be split 20-20, between Republicans and the remnant of a coalition that is largely comprised of Democrats but includes two Republicans.
For the candidates, it’s been a three-week rollercoaster ride marked by lead changes before the tie was declared and by the appearance of the mystery ballot.
Elections director Josie Bahnke said she wants to ensure that every vote cast by an eligible voter is counted.