Alaska GOP chair suggests new election for state House seat

  • By Becky Bohrer
  • Wednesday, August 31, 2016 10:29pm
  • News

JUNEAU — The chairman of Alaska’s Republican Party has suggested that another election be held in a state House district where ballot issues during the primary prompted questions about the election results.

Tuckerman Babcock, in a letter to the director of the state Division of Elections, said the House District 40 primary was handled so poorly that the true victor isn’t clear. He cautioned the elections director, Josie Bahnke, against certifying the primary results.

Unofficial results showed Democrat Dean Westlake beating Democratic state Rep. Benjamin Nageak by 21 votes. Nageak, of Barrow, is a member of the Republican-led House majority. There were no Republican candidates in that race.

The Division of Elections, in a statement Wednesday, said it had received information indicating that an error in one precinct “could potentially alter the outcome of the race.” That error involved a poll worker mistakenly giving all voters on election day both the Republican ballot and the ballot with Democratic, Libertarian and Alaskan Independence Party candidates, the division said. All voters voted both ballots, the division said.

However, the division said that since a candidate’s name appears on only one ballot, no one could have voted more than once for any one candidate.

A review board was going through all ballots cast for the primary, and the division said it expected to know more after the board’s work was completed. The board was scheduled to certify the election by Friday, the division said.

Nageak, meanwhile, has retained legal counsel to look into how the election in his district was conducted. Attorney Tim McKeever, whose firm was retained by Nageak, said it was too soon to say what steps, if any, might be taken until the review board process was complete.

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