FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Although the race for State House District 1 has been certified with Bart LeBon as the winner by one vote, neither candidate feels like it is officially over — and there is still a chance to legally challenge the results.
Beforethe recount Friday, there were a few ballots under investigation, including one that was left in a grey secrecy sleeve on a table on election night, according to the Division of Elections.
During a media teleconference, Josie Bahnke, Director of the Division of Elections, said that after investigation and speaking to the precinct workers, they discovered that it was a spoiled ballot and did not count it.
According to Bahnke, the precinct worker knew the personal representative who came into the precinct to sign out a special needs ballot for her husband, who was outside the polling place inside his vehicle.
She told the precinct worker that he had made a mistake and needed to fix it, so she was given another ballot.
At the time, the precinct chair instructed her to just leave the spoiled ballot in a grey secrecy sleeve on the table and they would deal with it later.
Even though it was logged in the precinct register in the section for spoiled ballots, the precinct chair mistakenly placed it in the emergency compartment of the optical scan ballot box along with other questioned ballots.
Per state law, spoiled ballots are not counted, so it was not tallied.
There was another ballot under investigation that was filled in for Dodge, while an "X" was put for LeBon. This was
determined to be an "overvote" and not counted.
The two ballots for Dodge that were under investigation going into the recount on Friday were not counted.
There was one ballot during the recount that was counted for Dodge, that was filled in too lightly, and was not originally
picked up by the optical scanning machine.
Officials scanned all the precincts for early voting, absentee, questioned ballots. During that process, the Division of Elections identified one ballot that was initially reviewed as a partial count, and then it was determined that it should be fully counted. That ballot was a vote for LeBon.
At that point in the recount, the candidates were tied again.
By the end of the day, they'd reviewed the rejected ballots — and during that review, they identified a ballot that had been initially rejected based on the voter’s registration because the voter was a felon. But that person had been off of probation since 2017 — and per state law, felons that are no longer in probation status can have their voting rights reinstated.
After researching the voter’s eligibility it was determined that their ballot should count, and it was marked for LeBon.
While speaking to the press after the recount, LeBon said that he learned a lot about the election process: “Overall
I learned a lot by the recount here and the professionalism of the Division of Elections, I give them kudos for handling this very well”.
He said he suspects there will be a legal challenge to the results and said he isn't "spiking the football" yet.
Dodge released a statement Friday saying, "There were a few decisions that were made today that we didn't agree with. I'm
considering my options and expect to make a decision early next week.”
Both candidates have until Wednesday to file legal challenges on the results. If that occurs, the Alaska Supreme Court will review the challenged ballots and make the final determination.