The number of uncounted votes in Alaska’s tightly fought U.S. Senate race grew by 21,000 between Wednesday and Friday — and more than 5,000 of those were votes that hadn’t been predicted in early accounts of the number of ballots outstanding. After election night on Tuesday, incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich trailed Republican challenger Dan Sullivan by 8,000 votes, or 3.6 percent, and both campaigns have been closely watching as state elections officials collect additional ballots cast by mail, or at more than 200 so-called “absentee in-person voting locations” around the state, where people could vote early. More than 40,000 ballots will likely be counted starting Tuesday, though the number will probably climb even more before then. To win, Begich would have to reverse election night trends and win a substantial majority — though his allies have pointed out that in the count following Election Day in 2008, Begich overcame a 3,000 vote deficit to Republican Ted Stevens and ultimately won by 4,000 votes. The spike between Wednesday and Friday was a reflection of state elections officials’ new accounting for more than 13,000 provisional ballots, 2,200 absentee ballots submitted by fax, mail or email, and some 5,200 ballots cast early at the in-person absentee voting locations across the state.
The provisional ballots — typically cast by voters at the wrong polling place, a small proportion of which won’t count in statewide races — were anticipated in early predictions of the number of uncounted votes, as were the absentees sent by mail. But the 5,200 early votes have not been included previously in accounts of the outstanding ballots. State elections officials said Friday that they don’t know how many more early votes they expect to arrive, or the proportion of the more than 200 early voting locations from which ballots have been collected.
Those ballots come from more than 200 early voting locations across the state — including 161 in rural Alaska, where results skewed heavily toward the incumbent Democratic candidate, Sen. Mark Begich, and where his campaign put a huge emphasis on registering and turning out voters.
More ballots are still expected from the early voting places, and those ballots are not included in state elections officials’ current totals of by-mail, by-fax or by-email absentee ballots that voters requested but haven’t yet returned. That number sits at 11,600.
Full Article: Uncounted votes grow in Alaska Senate race | Alaska Dispatch.