Voter turnout up slightly from last presidential election

  • By Becky Bohrer
  • Monday, November 28, 2016 11:00pm
  • News

JUNEAU — Voter turnout in this month’s general election hit 60.7 percent, up slightly from the previous presidential election in 2012.

According to the Division of Elections, turnout in 2012 totaled 59.6 percent. Over the past 20 years, turnout in presidential election years has been as low as 59.1 percent in 1996 and as high as 66.6 percent in 2004.

With ballot counting completed, Anchorage Republican Rep. Charisse Millett held off Democratic challenger Pat Higgins, winning by 95 votes. Millett served as House majority leader during the 2015 and 2016 sessions.

Higgins told The Associated Press on Monday that he accepts the decision of voters and does not plan to contest the results. He said he’s pleased there will be a new coalition in charge in the Alaska House.

In other close races, Republican Rep. Louise Stutes of Kodiak edged nonaffiliated candidate Duncan Fields by about 200 votes.

Nonaffiliated candidate Jason Grenn beat Anchorage Republican Rep. Liz Vazquez by 180 votes. Democrat Justin Parish beat Juneau Republican Rep. Cathy Munoz by 195 votes and Republican Rep. Lance Pruitt of Anchorage beat Democrat Harry Crawford, a former legislator, by about 155 votes.

Division of Elections Director Josie Bahnke said by email that the target for certifying the election results is Wednesday.

While Republicans will hold 21 of the House’s 40 seats when the next Legislature convenes in January, they will no longer control the chamber: Three Republicans and two independents have joined with Democrats to form a new majority, in which Republicans and Democrats will hold leadership roles.

Members have said the new group was borne of a desire to tackle the state’s multibillion-dollar budget deficit.

The Republicans who have joined are Stutes and Reps. Gabrielle LeDoux of Anchorage and Paul Seaton of Homer. Grenn and Parish also plan to be a part of the group.

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