Snyder takes narrow lead, election reform initiative extends lead as ballot count nears end

Democrat Liz Snyder holds a 17-vote lead over Republican Rep. Lance Pruitt in a race that will be key to determining political control of the Alaska House, according to the latest results from the Division of Elections released on Sunday.

Snyder has exactly 50% of the vote in the House District 27 race with 4,572 votes to Pruitt’s 4,555 votes. There are as many as 114 ballots outstanding ballots left to be counted in the race, which are scheduled to be counted on Tuesday (sigh).

The remaining ballots are some mix of full-count ballots that will likely impact the race (though some voters skip races altogether) and partial-count ballots that not impact the race as they typically count for the statewide races but not the legislative race (a result, perhaps, of a voter moving into the district from another district close to the election). According to the state there are 106 partial count ballots in the district and it’s unclear if they’ve already been counted.

The state deadline for by-mail ballots mailed from within the U.S. has already passed. It’s possible, though, that more could arrive by the Wednesday deadline for ballots mailed from overseas addresses.

At a 0.19% margin, the race is currently within 0.5% needed for the state to pay for a recount if one is requested.

Beyond the state-funded recount margin is Ballot Measure 2’s current margin of 0.96%. The initiative would implement ranked choice voting in the state’s general elections, open primaries and increased oversight on independent expenditure spending on candidate races. It has extended its lead to 3,216 votes according to the latest count.

Statewide, there are 7,470 ballots remaining to be counted according to the state’s statistics.

Along with the race between Snyder and Pruitt, there are two additional legislative races that have not been decided and have current margins that could be mathematically flipped by the remaining ballots.

The race between Democrat Elizabeth Niiqsik Ferguson and independent Josiah Aullaqsruaq Patkotak is down to a 148-vote lead for Patkotak. There are 434 outstanding ballots in the race.

Closer (and less likely to be flipped) is the race for House District 15, which is down to a margin of 91-votes with Republican David Nelson in the lead over Democrat Lyn Franks. There are 148 outstanding ballots left in the race.

Why it all matters

The loss of “House Speaker” Pruitt would cut the number of party-line Republicans in the 40-member House to 20 (we’re not counting Rep. Louise Stutes in these numbers as she’s been largely aligned with other Bush legislators).

This group will have a larger core of inexperienced, far-right members than it did in 2018 when 21 Republicans prematurely laid claim to the House Majority only for moderates to split off and form a coalition with Democrats and independents.

Only three remaining Republicans in this group, Reps. Bart LeBon, Steve Thompson and Cathy Tilton, would have had experience in a majority and LeBon’s experience comes only from the current bipartisan majority.

With razor-thin margins like this, a lot could happen in terms of deal-making and coalition building. And given Republicans’ run to the far-right, it could be increasingly difficult for them to recruit moderate independents or rural Democrats.

Alas, thanks to the Division of Elections’ glacial pace of counting ballots, we’ll be waiting until at least Tuesday.

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