With tens of thousands of votes left to be counted, the Alaska Senate race is far from over. The state Division of Elections announced Friday that there are 81,224 ballots yet to be counted in Alaska, where two embattled Republican incumbents are leading their Democratic challengers for now.
Whats more, the winner of either race will not be known for almost two weeks during counting. The state is scheduled to review the final results on Dec. 1, according to Elections Division Director Gail Fenumiai, though vote tallies will be updated in the meantime starting Wednesday evening.
Convicted Sen. Ted Stevens (R) led Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D) on Friday by 3,257 votes or about 1 percent of the total ballots that had been cast, counted or uncounted.
Similarly, embattled Rep. Don Young (R) has not been declared the victor despite his 16,939-vote lead over state House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz (D), who has yet to concede the race because of the high number of outstanding ballots.
Democrats hope the large number of early-voting ballots yet to be counted will push Begich over the edge. Alaska Democratic Party spokeswoman Bethany Lesser said Democrats have an advantage with early and absentee voters, who include Democratic-leaning constituencies such as students, the Native Alaskan population and, in Begichs unique case, military personnel.
But Republicans are skeptical. Not only are there a larger number of registered Republicans with outstanding early or absentee ballots as well, but Alaska GOP spokesman McHugh Pierre said likely absentee voters including military families and employees who work on resource development jobs in remote areas have a track record of being more conservative.
Most importantly, however, is that most absentee voters cast their ballots before Election Day and likely before Stevens was convicted on seven counts of corruption charges on Oct. 27.