In the final days of the midterms, I really thought that all of the drama in Alaska was going to center on the bizarre twists in the governor’s race. (The Republican won, by the way.) But the real confusion and angst turned out to revolve around one seat in the state House representing District 1. In that race, as of last Monday, Republican Mark LeBon was tied with Democrat Kathryn Dodge at 2,661 votes each. Yesterday a decision had to be reached about a “mystery ballot” which someone had found on a table at one of the voting precincts. The ballot appeared to be filled out for Dodge, but had apparently never been run through the machine. How do we keep having races come down to ballots that somebody “finds” at the last minute? (

Control of Alaska state government, at least for the next two years, could hinge on a mystery ballot that an election worker found on a table in a Fairbanks voting precinct more than three weeks ago.

The uncounted ballot could break a tie in an Alaska state House race…

Officials said the ballot was found by an election worker on a precinct table on Election Day in a gray secrecy sleeve. It was not counted at the time and was included among ballot materials that arrived in Juneau last Friday for an election review.

They mystery ballot was only one part of a recount which included a couple of provisional ballots that were still being questioned. Yesterday, however, all of them had been reviewed and the vote totals changed, but barely. LeBon wound up on top by a single vote. (KTOO)

The recount in the pivotal House District 1 race has ended. The new count favors Bart LeBon by one vote, and with it, Republican control of the Alaska House of Representatives.

The recount began Friday morning in Juneau and lasted more than five hours. In the end, LeBon led his opponent, Democrat Kathryn Dodge, by a count of 2,663 votes to 2,662.

The candidates were tied with 2,661 votes each as of Monday’s certified count.

The “mystery ballot” turned out to be spoiled and wasn’t counted. Two other ballots went LeBon’s way, however. One was held up due to a question about the voter’s address, later verified as being correct. Another ballot that had been held up was cast by a felon, but it was proven that he had completed probation in 2017 and properly registered to vote, so it was accepted. Dodge picked up one additional ballot which had been marked too faintly for the machine to count but it passed visual inspection during the recount.

Dodge will obviously challenge the result in court this coming week since it’s only a single vote margin. If her challenge is heard and just one of LeBon’s votes is rejected, we’re back to a tie. Then, under state law, the election will have to be decided by a coin toss. (Ain’t democracy great, kids?) Here’s what that coin toss will decide. If LeBon is verified as the winner, the GOP will hold a 21-19 margin in the House. If Dodge wins, it’s a 20-20 split between two opposing coalitions and what happens next is anybody’s guess.

So I suppose we should all make sure to get out and vote every year. Control of the state government can and has come down to a single ballot.