Candidates and voters will have to wait out the holiday weekend for the final results of the primary election to be certified.
The Alaska Division of Elections conducted its final 10-day count of absentee and questioned ballots Friday, though the state was still waiting on more election materials as of noon Friday, according to a press release from the Division of Elections. The plan is to work through the weekend and certify election results Tuesday, according to the release.
“While the Division’s goal was to certify (results) this weekend, we are working to ensure we give every detail the attention it needs to make sure Alaskans can feel fully confident in our final tally of the results,” said State Elections Director Josie Bahnke in the release.
Two primary elections on the central Kenai Peninsula have been too close to call until every last vote has been counted and certified. As of Friday, incumbent Sen. Peter Micciche was leading challenger Ron Gillham in the Republican primary race for the District O senate seat by 74 votes. Because there are no Democratic or third-party candidates running for the District O seat, the winner of the Republican primary will go unchallenged into the general election Nov. 6 for that seat.
Neither Gillham nor Micciche could be reached for comment Saturday night. In a letter addressed to District O constituents posted on his Facebook page, Micciche said he was grateful for voters’ support in the election but is not “doing the end zone dance.” In response to concerns raised in the elections, he wrote that he would commit to repeal sections of the recent criminal justice reform bill Senate Bill 91 that were softer on crime and replace them with sections that would “hold criminals accountable.” He also wrote that he committed to restoring a full Permanent Fund Dividend and cutting waste from the state budget while fighting government expansion.
“It is very clear that many of the folks in District O, the people I answer to, want more of me,” he wrote. “Please know this: I hear you and have been hearing several key messages from folks during the campaign.”
In House District 29 — which covers the northern Kenai Peninsula from Nikiski to Seward — Ben Carpenter was leading Wayne Ogle by 12 votes in the Republican primary as of Friday. The winner will face Democratic nominee Shawn Butler, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, for the seat in the general election in November.
Ogle said he was surprised by the election results, though he looked forward to continuing to serve Nikiski in his remaining year on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly. He noted that he hadn’t seen Carpenter out much during the primary election season and hoped that would change.
“Shawn Butler has been out running around talking to people … I think that’s what people want to see. She and I disagree on some issues, but I do think that she cares about getting out and meeting people and hearing about their issues,” he said. “I wish the best for Ben and hope he gets out a little more.”
Carpenter could not be reached for comment Saturday night. A post on his campaign Facebook page said he remains “cautiously optimistic” about the results, thanking voters for their support and welcoming aboard “all those who supported my opponent as we focus on winning the next election.”
In an Aug. 15 forum hosted by the joint Kenai and Soldotna chambers of commerce, Carpenter said he supported repealing recent criminal justice reforms at the state level and toughing criminal sentences and restoring the full Permanent Fund Dividend amount and did not support any new state taxes.
The Division of Elections performed a hand-coutn verification of 5 percent of ballots cast at polls in all the state’s House districts, verifying them to ensure the state’s ballot tabulation system accurately counted and reported election results, according to the Friday press release. The division planned to continue its work over the weekend in Juneau with a target date of certification on Tuesday.
Reach Elizabeth Earl at firstname.lastname@example.org.