Recounts set this week for 2 Alaska legislative races

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Recounts in two Anchorage-area legislative races are scheduled to take place this week, a top state elections official said Tuesday.

    A recount is planned for Wednesday in the Senate District E race and for Thursday in the House District 15 race, Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai said by email. Election results were certified last week.

    The recount in the Senate race was requested by Democrat Roselynn Cacy, who was the first of the three candidates in that ranked-vote contest to be eliminated. The race was won by Republican Cathy Giessel, a former state Senate president. Incumbent Republican Rep. Roger Holland also competed.

    Cacy said she had questions about the recording of votes and that transparency around the process was important to her. In her recount application, she cited a 14-vote difference between her and Holland after a round that took into account such things as the distribution of second choices on ballots that ranked write-ins first.

    Democrat Denny Wells requested a recount in the Anchorage House race. He finished seven votes behind Republican Rep. Tom McKay after the final ranked-vote tabulations. Official results showed McKay as the winner.

    Attorneys for Wells cited, in addition to the vote margin, other matters they said supported a recount. They said, for example, that between the first publication of ranked vote results and the publication of the certified results, “23 votes tallied for four of the six precincts were added, without explanation.”

    The attorneys Holly Wells, Jennifer Alexander and Scott Kendall have asked that the division conduct the recount by hand. They argue the margin between Wells and McKay is “small enough that, even if the electronic tabulators were 99.9% accurate, the error rate could still be determinative of the outcome of the Election.”

    Both recounts will be conducted at no charge to the candidates, Fenumiai said. State law calls for the state to bear the cost of a recount in certain circumstances, such as if there is a 20-vote or fewer difference between the candidates.

    Alaska voters in 2020 approved changes to the elections process that included ranked-choice voting in general elections. This was the first year that elections in the state were held under the new system.

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