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Tight Alaska Race Could Take Weeks To Settle

With Rep. Don Young leading Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell by just 145 votes after Tuesday's Alaska GOP primary contest, both candidates may now have to wait at least three weeks before the winner is crowned.

Nine precincts out of a total of 438 in the state still have to report, and that's only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to uncounted votes.

"We're not going to finish counting absentee and [provisional] ballots until September 5th," Gail Fenumiai, director of the state Division of Elections, told Capitol Briefing today. "We have thousands of absentee ballots to be counted."

Once the counting is finished, she said, a state board will spend seven to 10 days reviewing the results, a step included in every contest regardless of the margin. Next, the results would officially be certified, with a target date of Sep. 16 or 17 for that to occur. Only then can the loser of the contest ask for a full recount, which would take at least a few more days to complete.

Alaska election law does not provide for an automatic recount barring an exact tie, but does allows the loser of a contest to request one. If the margin is below .5 percent -- Young's lead currently stands at .16 percent -- then the state will bear the cost of the recount.

All of which means that unless the remaining uncounted ballots tip the race well in favor of one candidate, to the point where the other candidate concedes, we won't know who really won until late September. Until then, both Republicans will presumably have to proceed as though they will be on the general election ballot against former state Rep. Ethan Berkowitz (D).

By Ben Pershing  |  August 27, 2008; 5:17 PM ET
Categories:  2008 Campaign  
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Comments

Only in America can crooked politicians continue to get re elected!

Posted by: Los Angeles | August 28, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Stevens and Young should move to New Orleans

Posted by: Anonymous | August 28, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Or Jersey

Posted by: Anonymous | August 28, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

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