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Ballots still being counted in Alaska

Posted: March 8, 2012 - 1:08am
Ken Fisher, left, and Sheila Finkenbinder count ballots as Joe Geldhof watches the count of the Republican presidential preference poll at the Juneau Yacht Club Tuesday evening.  Michael Penn/Juneau Empire
Michael Penn/Juneau Empire
Ken Fisher, left, and Sheila Finkenbinder count ballots as Joe Geldhof watches the count of the Republican presidential preference poll at the Juneau Yacht Club Tuesday evening.

JUNEAU — Ballots from Tuesday’s GOP presidential poll in Alaska are still being counted but state Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich said Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the outcome to change.

Mitt Romney emerged from Tuesday night with 4,285 votes, or 32 percent; Rick Santorum had 3,860 votes, or 29 percent. Ron Paul, the only candidate to personally visit Alaska ahead of the vote, finished third, with 3,175 votes, or 24 percent. Newt Gingrich placed fourth, with 1,865 votes, or 14 percent. Thirty-four voters were uncommitted.

That tally did not include out-of-district ballots. Those were ballots cast by registered Republicans who weren’t in their home districts when they voted. Ruedrich estimated there were about 500 such ballots cast. He said he hopes to have updated numbers by Friday.

Ruedrich said he didn’t expect a change either in the outcome or in the delegate count.

Twenty-four delegates were up for grabs, to be allocated in proportion to the candidate’s share of the vote. The party projected that Romney won eight delegates, Santorum, seven, Paul, six and Gingrich, three.

In addition to those delegates, Alaska has three state party leaders who are delegates who will attend the national convention as unpledged, bringing the state’s total number to 27. Ruedrich will be one of those unpledged delegates. He declined to say Wednesday who he is supporting, citing the close vote and his intention to try to continue running the party instead of trying to “manipulate opinion.”

The latest numbers showed 13,219 Republicans voted. That is hundreds less than voted in 2008, the poll’s inaugural year. Ruedrich expects turnout to be comparable to four years ago when all the ballots are counted.

In 2008, Romney easily won the state. Paul finished third. Eventual party nominee John McCain finished fourth.

Romney won six of the 10 states voting on Super Tuesday. Santorum won three and Gingrich one, leaving Paul without a single win.

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