Did Gross pull off a comeback? Keep waiting. Today’s absentee ballot count will be incomplete

Update 10:16 a.m.: The state has released the latest absentee numbers, which generally lowers the percentage of absentees progressive candidates need to win. We’ve updated inline references to those statistics as well as the chart at the bottom of this story.

Update 1:27 p.m.: Oh, right, today’s count doesn’t include all the absentee ballots that have arrived. Only ballots that have arrived by varying deadlines. We’ll have even less of a complete picture of things than we initially thought.

If you were hoping that today’s vote counting would bring clarity to the congressional races, ballot measures or the shape of the state Legislature, then prepare to keep waiting.  

Today marks only the start of the Alaska Division of Elections’ efforts to count more than 156,000 ballots cast through by-mail absentee and other methods, about 44% of all expected votes. According to a news release from Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer’s office, the count will cover fewer than half of the state’s 40 legislative districts and somewhere in the neighborhood of 50,000 votes.

Results are set to be released at 5 p.m. and again at the close of business.

The remaining votes fall into three categories: Absentee, which includes by-mail and in-person absentee; Early in-person votes cast at one of the 11 early in-person sites between Oct. 30 and election day; and Questioned ballots, which may be fully or partially counted or denied.

Absentee ballots, which account for the vast majority of remaining votes and look to be more progressive than election-day voting, will only be counted in five Anchorage-area districts, five Mat-Su districts and seven Fairbanks-area districts. We’ll also see partial counts in Kenai’s House District 29 and Juneau’s House District 34.

Most of these counts, however, will not even be complete as today’s count will only cover absentees that arrived by various deadlines, most of which are before election day.

When and what votes will be counted

RegionHouse DistrictAbsenteeQuestionedEarly
III (Fairbanks)1(Thru 11/4) 11/10/202011/10/202011/10/2020
III (Fairbanks)2(Thru 11/4) 11/10/202011/10/202011/10/2020
III (Fairbanks)3(Thru 11/4) 11/10/202011/10/202011/10/2020
III (Fairbanks)4(Thru 11/4) 11/10/202011/10/202011/10/2020
III (Fairbanks)5(Thru 11/4) 11/10/202011/10/202011/10/2020
III (Fairbanks)6(Thru 11/4) 11/10/202011/10/202011/10/2020
II (Mat-Su)7(Thru 11/1) 11/10/202011/10/2020
II (Mat-Su)8(Thru 11/1) 11/10/202011/10/2020
III (Fairbanks)9(Thru 11/4) 11/10/202011/10/202011/10/2020
II (Mat-Su)10(Thru 11/1) 11/10/202011/10/2020
II (Mat-Su)11(Thru 11/1) 11/10/202011/10/2020
II (Mat-Su)12(Thru 11/1) 11/10/202011/10/2020
II (Anchorage)13
II (Anchorage)1411/10/2020
II (Anchorage)15(Thru 10/31) 11/10/202011/10/2020
II (Anchorage)16(Thru 10/31) 11/10/202011/10/2020
II (Anchorage)17
II (Anchorage)18
II (Anchorage)19(Thru 10/31) 11/10/202011/10/2020
II (Anchorage)20(Thru 10/31) 11/10/202011/10/2020
II (Anchorage)21(Thru 10/31) 11/10/202011/10/2020
II (Anchorage)22
II (Anchorage)23
II (Anchorage)24
II (Anchorage)25
II (Anchorage)2611/10/2020
II (Anchorage)2711/10/2020
II (Anchorage)28
I (Juneau)29(Thru 10/28) 11/10/202011/10/202011/10/2020
I (Juneau)3011/10/2020
I (Juneau)31
I (Juneau)32
I (Juneau)33
I (Juneau)34(Thru 10/29) 11/10/202011/10/202011/10/2020
I (Juneau)35
I (Juneau)36
IV (Nome)37
III/IV (Nome)38(Region III) 11/10/2020
III/IV (Nome)39(Region III) 11/10/2020
III/IV (Nome)40(Region III) 11/10/2020

Statewide races

For the congressional races and ballot measures, today’s results stand to be a mixed bag with votes coming from the conservative Mat-Su, moderate Fairbanks and some very progressive Anchorage districts.

Election-day voting saw Republicans Donald Trump, U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan and U.S. Rep. Don Young grab big leads that will require the remaining ballots to break hard in the progressive candidates’ favor. We’ve done an updated crunch of the numbers and progressives need somewhere between 66.78% and 69.2% of the remaining votes to pull even in the races.

In other states, by-mail votes have broken very hard for the Democrats, which is likely why Senate candidate Al Gross is holding out hope for the race to turn. He’s currently faring the worst of the bunch and needs more than 69.2% of the remaining votes to win.

We won’t know for sure today as a vast majority of ballots from Anchorage—which have heavy by-mail voting that’s tended to be quite progressive—will be left uncounted at the end of today.

The five Anchorage-area districts will give us an idea of where things might be headed but it should be noted that they’re generally the most progressive of the bunch and will likely be a highwater mark for how progressives will do in other Anchorage districts.

Legislative races

Most counts that are happening today will leave us with an incomplete look at legislative races, leaving questioned ballots unreviewed in most cases (though it should be noted that the final number of questioned ballots that end up counting in legislative races is quite small, so they’ll likely only be an issue in razor-tight races).

We’ll only be getting near-complete counts from the Fairbanks office, which plans to count absentee, questioned and early votes for House Districts 1-6 and 9 today. And, again, only absentee ballots that arrived through Nov. 4.

Among those races, there are two incumbent Democrats who are trailing after election day: Rep. Grier Hopkins, D-4, and Rep. Adam Wool, D-5. Hopkins needs more than 55.90% of the absentees to win while Wool needs more than 57.39% to win.

Though we won’t have questioned ballots counted in the Anchorage races, today’s count includes four contested legislative races: The House District 15 race between Democrat Lyn Franks and Republican David Nelson, the House District 16 race between incumbent Democratic Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, Republican Paul Bauer and Libertarian Scott Kohlhaas, the House District 21 race between incumbent Democratic Rep. Matt Claman and Republican Lynette Largent (Claman pulled ahead on Nov. 6) and the Senate District H race between incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Wielechowski and Republican Madeline Gaiser.

All Democrats trail in these races but the incumbents are expected to safely make up their margins. Spohnholz needs at least 54.53% of the remaining votes to win, Claman needs at least 50.94% and Wielechowski needs 50.93%.

Franks needs at least 57.19% to win, and a victory here would flip a House seat from Republican to Democrat.

What’s ahead

There are many House districts that have not even started counting ballots and the districts that have counted ballots today have not counted all their ballots. Absentee by-mail ballots that were postmarked through election day can be received as late as Friday to be eligible to be counted.

The state will announce its district schedule for Wednesday at some point today.

Margins by the numbers

Note: This breakdown only includes absentee voting and uncounted early votes (the final number of early votes minus the early votes as of Oct. 29, which was the deadline to be included in the election-day count). It does not include about 10,000 additional absentee ballots.

DistrictRepublican/NoDemocrat/YesDown byUncounted% Needed
House 12,5451,6149312,69167.30%
House 43,4152,9584573,87355.90%
House 52,8242,3534713,18857.39%
House 63,2201,3831,8373,28577.96%
House 151,4111,0223892,70657.19%
House 161,9981,6573413,76754.53%
House 212,3082,360-524,44249.41%
House 223,1581,1442,0144,22373.85%
House 232,1361,5875493,27158.39%
House 252,7941,9638314,17359.96%
House 272,9261,8341,0924,45862.25%
House 283,8372,2091,6286,20463.12%
House 352,0631,9121515,86851.29%
House 362,2142,805-5913,71042.04%
House 401,8161,4164001,03069.42%
Senate H3,2683,1471216,47350.93%
Senate B7,7303,5724,1586,26883.17%

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