Despite Democratic push, Division of Elections holds off on certifying results in race riddled with legal concerns
Updated at 8:46 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2
Friday, the Division of Elections said they’ll wait to certify primary election results in House District 40.
In a statement to KTVA, Daniel Ruiz, with the Division of Elections, said:
“The State Review Board will reconvene on Tuesday, September 6, and the Division of Elections expects to certify the primary election by close of business that day. While today was the Division’s goal to certify, the Division is taking this additional time to ensure every possible detail is attended to in order to give Alaskans full confidence in the Division’s final tally of the results.”
The Alaska Democratic Party sent a letter Wednesday to the director of the Division of Elections, Josie Bahnke, urging her to continue certifying results in House District 40, where Rep. Benjamin Nageak is losing by 21 votes to Dean Westlake — a candidate supported by the party.
A mistake at one precinct in the district broke the law, when voters in Shungnak were accidentally allowed to vote on both the Republican and Democratic ballots. According to state law, “A voter may vote only one primary election ballot.” The Republican party, and members of the House and Senate State Affairs committee, have urged Bahnke not to certify the results because of the violation.
But the Alaska Democratic Party disagrees.
“A review of the facts indicates a costly, wholesale restructuring of the election is unwarranted,” Casey Steinau, chair of the Alaska Democratic Party, wrote to Bahnke. “Ultimately, there is no evidence to suggest that the outcome of any race was affected by any of the issues that occurred on the day of the Primary Election.”
Steinau describes the mistake in Shungnak as a “breach of election protocol.”
The press release sent out Wednesday afternoon was titled Democrats to AK GOP: Stop Meddling in Our Primary.
“This attempt to meddle in a Democratic Primary and silence rural Alaska is a blatant overstep by Republican leadership designed to undermine a result they don’t like,” the release stated.
Both Nageak and Westlake are Democrats, but Nageak caucuses with the Republican-lead majority in Juneau — a move that has allowed him a powerful position as chair of the House Resources Committee.
In a press release Thursday evening, Tuckerman Babcock, chairman of the Alaska Republican Party responded to the Democratic Party’s push for certification. “It’s stunning that the chair of the Democratic Party would want her favored candidate to win so badly that she openly endorses illegal voting,” Bacock said.
Bahnke plans to certify a winner in the race tomorrow, according to a Wednesday press release.