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Alaska vote totals changed in between counts. Here’s why

Precinct reporting error were corrected as tallies were checked
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Published: Nov. 6, 2020 at 7:17 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - If you’re one of the many Alaskans subscribed to the state’s election results text messages, which send an alert each time the division updates its vote tallies, you likely received an “update” message Friday afternoon. The Division of Elections has not counted ballots since Thursday, and the total vote counts on Friday for president and U.S. Senate were different from Thursday by approximately one hundred votes.

Alaska’s News Source called the Division of Elections to find out what happened and learned that the division was correcting an error found in initial counts reported by a precinct.

The error affected only the U.S. presidential and U.S. Senate races. Bethel Precinct #2 mismatched the numbers for the candidates in the two races, according to Tiffany Montemayor, a spokesperson for the Division of Elections. No other races on the ballot were reported in error, she said.

The mistake was due to human error, Montemayor said, and was caught once the ballot tape, a receipt-like paper roll, was received at the Division of Elections and checked against the reported results.

The vote tallies for candidates in the presidential and U.S. Senate races were reported for other candidates. Comparing the final counts for the precinct to the previous day’s reports, it appears that the vote counts were offset by two lines, based on the order the candidates appeared on the ballot.

“The tapes showed that Biden had 254 votes, but they reported to us that Brock Pierce had 254 votes. And the tapes showed that Donald Trump got 245 votes, but they reported to us that he got three votes,” Montemayor said. “So they mismatched some things.”

All candidates in the two races were misreported. The check of the reported counts to the tape is the first of many checks before the vote totals are certified by the Election Review Board, Montemayor said.

“We can’t prevent human errors but we can, and do, detect them and correct them,” Montemayor said.

The Division of Elections will continue counting absentee and early voting results on Tuesday. The Division is required to complete counting by Nov. 18, after which the Election Review Board will certify the election.

Preliminary election results have been reported. The numbers will be updated here as results continue to come in.

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