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LeDoux takes lead in District 15 count, with or without 'suspect' ballots

 (KTUU)
(KTUU) (KTUU)
Published: Aug. 28, 2018 at 12:50 PM AKDT
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Updated 5:00 p.m. Tuesday:

The Alaska Division of Elections has released vote counts that indicate incumbent Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux may win the primary election, whether it includes "suspect" absentee ballots or not.

In a release Tuesday evening, the Division says 26 absentee ballots were determined to be "suspect." Without those votes counted, LeDoux still holds a 87-vote lead over challenger Aaron Weaver. The count without those suspected ballots has LeDoux with 426 and Weaver with 339.

With the suspected ballots, LeDoux's lead grows -- by 26 -- to 452-339.

The Department says 636 District 15 voters voted in person, early, and by questioned ballot. Twenty six of 208 absentee ballots were determined to be questionable. Those ballots have been referred to the state's Criminal Division of the Department of Law for investigation.

The Division of Elections is still accepting absentee ballots that have already been mailed, until Friday, Aug. 31. The election is expected to be certified Saturday, Sept. 1.

Original Story:

Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, the renegade Republican House member from District 15, took the lead in primary ballot counting Tuesday, a week after she had fallen behind her neophyte opponent by three votes.

LeDoux won in each category of ballot counted Tuesday — early voting, questioned and absentee. Her attorney, Tom Amodio, said she took pains to encourage her supporters to vote early or select an absentee ballot.

Her opponent, former KTUU video photographer Aaron Weaver, said he barely campaigned for the seat.

The unofficial count showed her ahead 452 votes to Weaver’s 339.

Republican Party chairman Tuckerman Babcock said Tuesday the party was

.

LeDoux was one of three Republicans to join Democrats and independents in the House in support of a Democratic-led coalition under Speaker Bryce Edgmon, a Democrat from Dillingham. Her reward: chairmanship of the House Rules Committee.

The other Republicans were Paul Seaton, who ran alone as an independent on the Democratic primary and faces Republican and independent opposition in the general election, and Louise Stutes from Kodiak, who beat a Republican in the primary but faces a Democrat and an independent in the general.

LeDoux took 6 votes to Weaver’s 1 in early voting ballots that weren’t counted on election night. Weaver had added to his own lead Monday from ballots that were found mis-fed in one of the ballot readers. He still was leading even after the 6-to-1 LeDoux advantage.

But she got 70 votes among questioned ballots to Weaver’s 2; and 142 among absentee votes to Weaver’s 33.

The final count is due Saturday, but regional elections chief Julie Husmann said the results were unlikely to change.

The counting was arduous, with one election official opening up the absentee ballots and stacking them in a pile before delivering them to another, who fed them into the counting machine. The first election official then grabbed the counted ballots and handed them to another table, where two more workers sealed them again with tape.

They worked in front of a big room divider. In a room off to the side, other election workers were busy on different matters.

At one point, the count of taped ballots was one short of the machine-counted ballots — 50 to 51 — meaning that one ballot was probably counted twice. The process began all over again, with the counter reset to zero.

The whole process was observed by more people than the officials who worked on the count. The observers, seated or standing behind a white plastic chain, included a representative of the Republican Party, the retired chairman of the party, a retired citizen who came to watch democracy in action and who said he was impressed by the thoroughness of the division “under stress,” an attorney dressed in sockless sandals who represented a candidate, the spokeswoman for the elections division, and between two and six media representatives, depending on the time of the morning.

Notably absent were the candidates themselves: LeDoux and challenger Aaron Weaver, a first-time candidate and former KTUU photographer; and the three candidates who appeared on the Democratic ballot: Lyn Franks, Patrick McCormack and Rick Phillips, whose party affiliation was undeclared. Franks was winning on election night, with a 51-vote lead over second place McCormack.

The ballots in the district had been

Those included seven absentee ballots apparently sought by voters who had died, and the failure of other absentee ballot seekers to provide current contact information.