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The Alaska Republican Senate primary is still not over, but Tuesday could be a turning point. The Alaska Division of Elections will begin counting absentee, questioned and early ballots, with Sen. Lisa Murkowski trailing Fairbanks attorney Joe Miller by fewer than 1,700 votes.

A total of 15,272 ballots will be counted on Tuesday, according to a state spokeswoman. That includes 10,850 absentee ballots, 3,784 questioned ballots and 638 early ballots.

The state can continue counting ballots until Sept. 8 and expects more ballots to trickle in over the coming days.

If Miller finishes ahead, Murkowski’s only opportunity to compete in the general election would be as a write-in candidate — a challenging prospect but one that has been done before. The Alaska Libertarian Party announced on Monday that it would not drop its nominee in favor of Murkowski, if she loses the primary and asks to run on the Libertarian line.

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