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Count of Absentee, Early Ballots Changes Little in General Election

Dan Sullivan at AFN 2014. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM.

“Round 2″ of ballot counting from last week’s election ended Tuesday night, and while there are still thousands of votes left to count there were no major shakeups in any statewide races.

Little change is bad news for Democratic Senator Mark Begich. Though he narrowed the gap between himself and Republican candidate Dan Sullivan to fewer than 8,000 votes, Begich is still thousands of votes away from tying Sullivan’s count, let alone repeating his 2008 election victory over Ted Stevens—where Begich went from roughly 3,000 votes behind on election night to winning by about 4,000 votes.

Sullivan has called for Begich to concede the race, but at the end of ballot counting on Tuesday—and with many thousands more votes yet to count—the race was still too close to call. But as Begich’s chances for victory become increasingly slim, at least one major media outlet called the race anyway: the Associated Press announced late Tuesday night they were calling the Senate race for Sullivan; Begich has not conceded the race.

Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai said, with about 15,200 votes added to the register at the end of the day Tuesday, there were still plenty left to count: as many as 30,000, the counting of which will start Friday and go into next week.

While those extra votes did little to change Sullivan’s lead over Begich, they widened the gap in the governor’s race: independent candidate Bill Walker, already leading by nearly 3,000 votes against Republican Governor Sean Parnell, gained an additional 1,000 votes. Walker now leads Parnell by about 1.6 percent, but with such an incredibly slim margin, both sides are watching carefully as all votes are counted.

Fenumiai said she hopes to have the election certified by November 28.