House District race separated by just 4 votes could be certified Tuesday

The race is only separated by four votes, with Republican incumbent Tom McKay leading with 3,472 and Democrat challenger Denny Wells trailing with 3,468.
Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 9:47 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A razor-thin margin of votes for Alaska State House District 15 has resulted in no official call for the race yet, but the final result is expected to be certified Tuesday, if not postponed by election officials.

The race is only separated by four votes, with Republican incumbent Tom McKay leading with 3,472 and Democrat challenger Denny Wells trailing with 3,468.

After all of the votes in South Anchorage were tallied in last Wednesday’s ranked choice voting tabulation, McKay said it was a very exciting night when his team and himself learned that he was in the lead.

“I’m pleased at the spot I’m in, being ahead by a little bit,” McKay said. “It must be agonizing to be on the other side of that.”

McKay was behind by 543 votes prior to the ranked choice tabulation on Nov. 23, trailing Wells by a tally of 3,376 to 2,833. But once the third-place candidate in the race, David Eibeck, was eliminated and his second-place votes redistributed to Wells and McKay, the race flipped — McKay received 639 of Eibeck’s votes while Wells got 92, helping McKay take the lead by a scant four votes.

According to the Division of Elections, the target date for the race being certified is Tuesday, but officials are not sure yet if they’re going to meet the target date or if it might shift to Thursday.

“It will take place here in Juneau, and of course Mr. Wells would have to apply to request the recount,” Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai said. “If the vote count difference is 20 votes or less or within a small percentage of difference between first and second, the recount is free, but it does need to be applied for.”

Fenumiai said the application for a recount would have to be received within five days after the state review board certifies the election, then the recount would have to be held within five days.

“What happens in a recount is all the ballots are obviously recounted, then we review all of the absentee and questioned ballots that were rejected and go over the reasons why they were rejected, and if there happen to be any absentee ballots that come in before the recount is concluded that could otherwise be countable, they would be included in the recount,” Fenumiai said.

McKay said he and his team are a little nervous, but they say the hardest part has been waiting so long.

“Now we wait until (Tuesday) for the certification, and then we assume our opponent will probably want to have a state-funded recount, because that’s his right, with such a close race,” McKay said. “We feel fairly positive, I’m told that most of the recounts in Alaska haven’t changed the result, but we’ll just have to see how it goes.”

McKay said that this is another example of why everyone should get out and vote.

Alaska’s News Source reached out to Wells but had not heard back from him when this story published.

If McKay is successful in this election, he would go from representing the outgoing House District 24 to the newly-created House District 15 when his new term begins in January. The new district encompasses Sand Lake, Campbell Lake, and Bayshore neighborhoods.

House District 15 race
House District 15 race(Colin Lamar)