Absentee ballot totals growing

Posted: Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Nearly 2,000 additional absentee ballots have arrived at Alaska Division of Elections offices since the last reported tally.

In the contest for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, challenger Joe Miller holds a 1,668-vote lead over incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Two-thirds of primary voters cast ballots in the Republican primaries for U.S. Senate and also for governor or lieutenant governor, and the majority of the additional ballots are likely to be Republican.

And while on election day Murkowski lost narrowly, in early voting she had 54.1 percent to 45.9 percent lead over Miller, according to Empire calculations.

If the absentee votes come in as did the early votes, Murkowski could eliminate Miller's lead.

Additional absentee ballot tallies announced by the Division of Elections after the weekend added 1,990 ballots to those still to be counted.

Also crucial to the outcome may be where outstanding ballots are from.

The single largest district yet to be counted is the Kenai Peninsula district represented by House Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski. There are 853 votes to be counted there, and Miller won that district with 63.5 percent of the vote. The next largest district was an Anchorage precinct, where Murkowski generally ran strongly.

Murkowski didn't win everywhere in Anchorage, however, and Miller won House District 18 by 60 percent to 40 percent. That's the district Murkowski once represented in the Alaska Legislature, before her appointment to the Senate by her father, then-Gov. Frank Murkowski.

In Juneau, remaining absentee votes are 512 absentees downtown and 312 in the valley, both areas in which Murkowski won. Additional questioned ballots remain in those two districts as well.

Additional absentee votes are to be counted today, with the final count not scheduled to be completed until next week.

Additional ballots can arrive in the mail daily. Though they must be postmarked by election day, ballots from the U.S. have 10 days to arrive; from overseas the deadline is 15 days.

• Contact Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

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