A tightly contested Republican primary race for a Kenai Peninsula state House seat is headed to a state-paid recount.
On Tuesday morning, Alaska Division of Elections director Josie Bahnke said Wayne Ogle has requested a recount of his defeat by Benjamin Carpenter in House District 29. That recount will take place Thursday or Friday.
Her announcement came as the division certified the results of the Aug. 21 statewide primary.
Ogle trails Carpenter by 12 votes out of 3,122 cast in that district’s Republican primary. Both men are vying to replace longtime Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, who sought the Republican lieutenant governor nomination before withdrawing from that contest.
Under state law, any race decided by fewer than 20 votes or 0.5 percent of the votes cast is eligible for a state-funded recount.
In all other cases, the candidate who requests the recount must pay for it. No other race was eligible for a state recount. The deadline for a candidate to request a recount is Sunday.
Stevens Village ballots missing
Tuesday’s election certification comes despite the fact that the Division of Elections has received ballots from only 441 of the state’s 442 precincts.
Stevens Village, which has 76 registered voters, did not call in election results on Election Day, and the election coordinator there has not answered repeated phone calls from the division.
“We tried and tried and tried,” Bahnke said, adding that officials have called all over town to try to get results, but they haven’t had any success.
Elections officials even contacted others throughout the village to get results, but were foiled.
According to the U.S. Postal Service, hardcopy results were mailed Aug. 29 but had not arrived at the division’s headquarters in Juneau by Tuesday, Bahnke said.
Late-arriving ballots are common in Alaska elections — the green bags containing ballots from Brevig Mission and Anaktuvuk Pass arrived in Juneau on Tuesday morning — but ballots entirely missing from the election are extremely rare.
In 1978, the gubernatorial primary between Wally Hickell and Jay Hammond famously turned on absentee ballots and became controversial when hundreds of missing ballots were found in an Anchorage filing cabinet.
Others were recovered from among seal carcasses and mushy garbage in the Kotlik village dump, according to contemporary accounts from the Anchorage Daily News.
In those cases, preliminary results had been telephonically delivered to elections officials. This time around, that didn’t happen, leaving officials uncertain even about how many ballots were cast.
Facing a deadline to certify the election, Bahnke said the division couldn’t wait.
“If they weren’t reported to us, they’re not included,” she said.
Stevens Village is located in House District 6, and all three local races within that district were uncontested. Sen. Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, received the Republican nomination for Alaska Senate uncontested; Ed Alexander received the Democratic nomination for House uncontested; Rep. David Talerico, R-Fairbanks, received the Republican nomination for House uncontested.
LeDoux, Micciche elected
Absentee and questioned ballots reversed Election Day results for two legislative incumbents. Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage, beat primary challenger Aaron Weaver by 117 votes in House District 15 despite allegations of voter fraud.
Even with questionable ballots discarded, LeDoux had more than enough support to win the Republican primary by nearly 15 percentage points.
On Tuesday, elections officials said the possible voter fraud issue has been referred to the Alaska Department of Law, and the issue did not preclude them from certifying the election.
Republican Jake Sloan on Tuesday launched a write-in campaign against LeDoux in the general election. Democratic candidate Lyn Franks will also appear on the ballot.
In the Kenai Peninsula, Senate Majority Leader Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, defeated challenger Ron Gillham by 72 votes out of 5,953 cast in the Republican primary for Senate District O. Gillham led Micciche after Election Day. There is no general election challenger. Barring a write-in campaign against Micciche, he will appear in the next Legislature.
Juneau results unchanged
Story earned 1,549 of the 2,127 votes cast in the HD34 Democratic primary, defeating independent challenger Rob Edwardson by nearly 50 percentage points.
In HD 33, Hannan won 1,872 of 3,147 votes in the Democratic primary, emerging triumphant from a four-way race with 61.9 percent of the vote. Her closest challenger, Tom Morphet of Haines, took 581 votes, or 19.2 percent. Steve Handy of Douglas received 475 votes, and James Hart of Haines (who withdrew after the official deadline) received 98 votes.
Hannan will face independent candidate Chris Dimond in the general election. Story will face Republican Jerry Nankervis, who won the HD 34 primary uncontested. Nankervis received 1,455 votes among the 1,710 cast in the Republican HD 34 primary. The difference between the two figures is due to voters not casting a vote in the race.
Turnout in House District 34 was 25.75 percent of the 15,218 registered voters. In House District 33, turnout was 28.48 percent of 15,722 registered voters. In both districts, turnout was well above the statewide figure of 20.42 percent.
• Contact reporter James Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 523-2258.