U.S. Senate recount sought

Recount Alaska 2004 is soliciting money to finance new talley

Posted: Wednesday, December 01, 2004

WASHINGTON - A Fairbanks group wants a recount of votes cast in the U.S. Senate race and is seeking donations to pay for it.

Recount Alaska 2004 is led by David Koester, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The group sent out an e-mail Monday asking for money.

The state requires a $10,000 deposit to cover recount costs. The money is refunded if the race winner changes. Candidates can request a recount at the state's expense in races with a vote difference of less than 0.5 percent.

Former Gov. Tony Knowles, a Democrat, lost the race to Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski by about 3 percent, or 9,400 votes, in the unofficial count released in mid November.

The state's election review board, a bipartisan group, is going over the final tally and will release the official tally soon, said Shelly Growden, Division of Elections supervisor in Fairbanks.

After that, any candidate or group of at least 10 voters can ask for a recount. The request must come within five days of the review board certifying the results.

Knowles will not be joining the recount effort, said his spokesman Bob King.

"We have told them we appreciate their thoughts and their efforts, but Knowles does not believe that there's any way that a recount would change the outcome," King said.

Sean McGuire, a member of the recount group, said the recount would be a worthwhile "exercise in democracy."

"I think the main thing is people just really want to take a look and see: Were all the votes counted and were they counted accurately?" said McGuire.

The group said it has two reasons for seeking a recount: Exit polls put Knowles in the lead and the machines that optically scan most ballots cast in Alaska have proven inconsistent.

"I think it's very dangerous to have our whole democracy in the hands of these machines," McGuire said.

Laura Glaiser, director of the state Division of Elections, said the optical scanning machines have worked flawlessly. A hand-done recount in a recent Matanuska-Susitna Borough election confirmed the computer's count, she said.

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