State certifies primary election amid voter fraud concerns
There are still concerns about potential voter fraud in an East Anchorage House Republican primary race, but the Division of Election on Tuesday has still certified its results.
After trailing by three votes to challenger Aaron Weaver on the Aug. 21 primary night, Republican incumbent Gabrielle LeDoux has now won by more than a hundred.
Of the 26 ballots marked set aside as suspicious, all were in Ledoux's favor. But the Division of Elections noted those weren't enough to have changed the outcome.
"The division is confident in certifying the result," a spokesperson said in a press release Tuesday afternoon, noting that the division's authority does not include criminal investigation or enforcement.
"Delaying certification of the 2018 Primary Election was not an option because of the short window of time for a candidate or group of voters wishing to request a recount or file an election contest if they want to challenge the results in court," Josie Bahnke, the division's director, explained. "Any challenge will need to be resolved quickly because the division needs to know the winner of the primary in time to print ballots for the general election.”
The Alaska Department of Law will not confirm or deny whether a criminal investigation into the potential voter fraud in House District 15 is underway. John Skidmore, director of the criminal division, confirmed Tuesday that he received KTVA's Freedom of Information Act request, sent last week, seeking a legal reason as to why that information cannot be released. Skidmore says the department is processing the request.
In an email Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Department of Law said the certification of the election and any potential criminal investigation are two separate matters.
"Once the Division of Elections has determined which ballots should be counted and certified the election, those results are final," said Assistant Attorney General Cori Mills in an emailed statement.
"If challenged, then the court would ultimately determine whether the Division of Elections’ decisions in relation to counting or not counting ballots was proper. We are confident that the Division of Elections has properly certified the election, especially in light of the fact that the 26 suspect ballots in the HD 15 primary race would not impact the outcome," Mills added.
In a statement Tuesday, Alaska Republican Party Chairman, Tuckerman Babcock, said the party is "trusting the criminal investigation to get to the bottom of who was responsible for the fraudulent ballots and that those responsible will be prosecuted."
Babcock indicated the party will not contest the results in court.
"Courts are a poor vehicle to sort out elections... The election is just 63 days away," Babcock wrote.
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