Organizers request U.S. Senate recount

Alaskans for Fair Elections collects $10,000 for new count

Posted: Thursday, December 09, 2004

June requests a recount

By TIMOTHY INKLEBARGER

JUNEAU EMPIRE

Democratic House District 5 candidate Tim June requested a recount Wednesday for his race against Republican Bill Thomas.

Thomas defeated June in the November election by 76 votes, receiving 3,446 votes to June's 3,370 votes.

House District 5 represents residents from Haines, Skagway, Tenakee Springs, Yakutat, Kake, Cordova and several small coastal communities. Both candidates live in Haines.

June said Wednesday he was working to raise the $750 needed to pay the cost of the recount. "We're kind of hustling right now," he said Wednesday afternoon. "I'm just making calls and talking to people."

He said he also was looking to get information on the accuracy of optical scan voting machines used in the election.

"It's just a housekeeping measure to sure that all the Ts are crossed and the Is are dotted," June said.

Thomas said he is not concerned about the recount.

"It was a hard-fought election and he doesn't want to let it go," Thomas said. "(The Division of Elections) counted the votes three times. I don't know how you can turn around and find something different."

The Division of Elections has 10 days to complete the recount.

It was down to the wire Wednesday for voters requesting a recount in the Alaska U.S. Senate race.

Organizers of the group Alaskans for Fair Elections spent Wednesday collecting the final contributions for the $10,000 necessary to conduct a state recount, according to Fairbanks organizer David Koester. The deposit pays the cost of the recount and will be returned if the outcome changes.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski defeated former Gov. Tony Knowles, a Democrat, by 9,568 votes. Official results show 307,371 citizens voted in the U.S. Senate race, with Murkowski winning 149,446 votes, Knowles winning 139,878 votes and the rest going to third-party candidates.

At about 11 a.m. Wednesday, the group still needed between $500 and $1,000 by the state Division of Elections' 5 p.m. deadline to request the recount. Organizer Joe Sonneman, of Juneau, said the group collected the final $1,000 throughout the day but faced another dilemma Wednesday afternoon.

A delayed flight to Juneau from Fairbanks, by way of Anchorage, postponed the arrival of five of the 10 signatures needed for the recount petition, Sonneman said. The other five signatures came from Juneau residents, he said.

He said the flight was scheduled to arrive in Juneau at 1:30 p.m. but had been delayed several times.

"We've got our fingers crossed, sure," Sonneman said at about 3:45 p.m. He received the signatures an hour later and turned them over to the state Division of Elections.

Sonneman said the group had a backup plan. Green Party U.S. Senate candidate Jim Sykes on Wednesday requested a recount in the Anchorage Division of Elections office. State law provides that 10 registered voters or a candidate can request a recount.

According to the group's Web site, exit polls conducted at 3:30 p.m. on Election Day showed Knowles winning the election with 50 percent to Murkowski's 47 percent. It also questions the accuracy of optical scan voting machines used in the election.

"We're trying to assure Alaskans that it was a fair election and that the votes were counted accurately and only counted once," Sonneman said.

State law requires the Division of Elections to complete the recount within 10 days.

• Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at timothy.inklebarger@juneauempire.com.



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