House District 1 race certified as a tie, with recount and decision on in-limbo ballot to come

The Division of Elections has certified the results of the House District 1 race as a 2,661-to-2,661 tie between Democrat Kathryn Dodge and Republican Bart LeBon.

The outcome of the race and whether it will go to a tiebreaker coin flip will have to wait pending the results of state-mandated automatic recount on Friday and a decision about a single in-limbo ballot that has not yet been added to the final tally.

As we reported earlier this morning that ballot was expected to be a vote for Dodge, according to multiple sources, but it was not added to the final tally recorded today. The Division of Elections said there has been no decision, yet, about whether to count that ballot.

“The State Review Board has inspected and hand counted every ballot from the district, with the exception of one ballot which is currently being investigated further to determine whether or not it will be counted,” explained an elections news release. “The ballot was included with the questioned materials, but there was no questioned ballot envelope to account for the ballot.”

The division did, however, confirm that the in-limbo ballot “appears to be a marked ballot for candidate Dodge.”

The results of the election will now head to an automatic recount on 10 a.m. Friday at the Division of Elections office in Juneau. In the meantime, the Division of Elections will continue to try to figure out what happened with the in-limbo ballot.

“As election officials, it is our job to ensure that we have all of the facts before moving forward with a conclusion and that every vote is counted accurately,” Elections Director Josie Bahnke said in a prepared statement. “In certifying House District 1 as a tie, an automatic recount will be conducted on Friday morning. This allows the division more time to investigate the ballot in question before making a determination on whether or not it should count.”

If the race remains a tie after the recount, the race would be decided by a coin flip (state law says “by lot” or chance) but don’t expect that to happen on Friday. Both sides would have time to issue legal challenges within five days of the recount.

The last time an election was decided by coin flip was more than a month after the election and only after the case went to the Alaska Supreme Court.

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