Pivotal House race recount now favors LeBon by 1 vote

Democrat Kathryn Dodge and Republican Bart LeBon were tied in the election for the Alaska House race to represent downtown Fairbanks. After a recount, LeBon is up one vote over Dodge. (Dodge photo courtesy of Kathryn Dodge and LeBon photo courtesy of Bart LeBon)

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 — 2,663 votes to 2,662.

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

State Division of Elections Director Josie Bahnke announced before the recount they would not count a ballot cast in the Fairbanks number 6 precinct marked for Kathryn Dodge. She reiterated the point during a press conference Friday afternoon.

“We discovered that it was in fact a spoiled ballot and was not counted,” Bahnke said. “So, wanted to kind of close the loop on that.”

LeBon picked up a vote from a ballot that was previously counted as partially voted due to the voter’s registration status, but was later fully counted when the division verified their address.

Another LeBon vote came from a questioned ballot belonging to a registered voter with a felony conviction. Region III Elections Supervisor Jeremy Johnson explained that vote was initially not counted due to the individual’s voter status.

“Then today upon further research, we were able to determine that they had been off of probation since 2017 and they had an appropriately filed registration application,” Johnson said. “So that’s why that ballot would be counted.”

Dodge picked up a vote from a ballot that was marginally marked, meaning it was marked too faintly for the ballot machine to register.

Both campaigns challenged several ballots during the course of the recount. They now have five days to submit a legal challenge. If they do, the appeal will go directly to the Alaska Supreme Court.

After inching ahead, LeBon said he looks forward to a resolution.

“I thought after the election, it would settle out, the dust would settle out fairly quickly and then I never dreamed three weeks later we’d all be here together in Juneau still hammering it out. So I learned a lot,” LeBon said.

Dodge said she and her lawyer planned to regroup and figure out next steps.