The first batch of absentee and questioned ballots brought the runoff race for Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor much closer — candidate Charlie Pierce’s lead over opponent Linda Hutchings is now only 51 votes.
It’s not the final say, though. The borough clerk’s office will also count any ballots that come in the mail on Monday and Tuesday, as Tuesday is the deadline for absentee by-mail ballots to be valid.
So far, Hutchings took the majority of the absentee votes, with 54.4 percent or 898 votes to Pierce’s 45.6 percent or 753 votes, according to absentee ballot results posted on the borough clerk’s website.
The addition of the absentee ballots pushed the overall standings to Pierce leading with 50.3 percent of the popular vote, or 4,296 vote to Hutchings’ 49.7 percent or 4,245 votes. At the close of polls on election night, Pierce led by 226 votes, with 51.6 percent of the vote to Hutchings’ 48.4 percent.
The borough clerk will finalize the count Tuesday and present the results to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly for certification at the assembly’s meeting that evening.