Assembly race tightens; Bush says he's still optimistic

Advantage over Johnson has shrunk from 167 to 42 votes

Posted: Sunday, October 10, 2004

Juneau's Assembly election faces a possible recount.

The difference in votes between Assembly member Jeannie Johnson and former School Board president Jeff Bush shrank from 167 to 42 after an election board reviewed all 1,534 questioned and absentee ballots Friday afternoon.

The unofficial tally showed Bush received 4,312 votes while Johnson got 4,270. On Tuesday, Bush led with 3,723 votes to Johnson's 3,556.

A count error on Friday further prompted both candidates to question the result.

The board said there were 524 questioned ballots but a machine's count was 535. The board counted the ballots twice to make sure it was 524.

"I've never seen anything like this happen before," said City Clerk Laurie Sica. "The machine is usually fairly accurate."

The board will review all precinct results and run the questioned ballots again next Tuesday. If all the numbers are correct, election results will be certified.

Both Johnson and Bush said the race was not resolved yet.

Bush said he would remain cautiously optimistic. "The difference is a lot closer than it was on Tuesday," he said.

Johnson said she would consider requesting a recount if necessary. "It's nice to see the gap is narrowing," she said.

According to city election codes, a defeated candidate or 10 qualified voters may request a recount within two days after the review of election returns. The candidate or the 10 voters will have to pay for the recount.

If the gap remains 42 votes, the city will have to pay for a recount because the difference is fewer than 43, which equals 0.5 percent of the total number of votes cast for the candidates involved.

"I will have trouble sleeping the next few days," Bush said.

• I-Chun Che can be reached at ichun.che@juneauempire.com.



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