Alaska Supreme Court to weigh in on final unresolved House race

State Review Board member Stuart Sliter discusses part of the election certification process with board member Lynda Thater-Flemmer, seated, and House District 1 candidate Kathryn Dodge, D-Fairbanks, in the Juneau office of the Alaska Division of Elections on Nov. 23, 2018. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

The Division of Elections ran through every ballot for House District 1 last Friday. Officials counted 2,662 votes for Democrat Kathryn Dodge and 2,663 for her opponent, Republican Bart LeBon.

Following the recount, the candidates had until Wednesday to contest the results of the recount. And the Dodge campaign, just one vote behind, met the deadline to file with the Alaska Supreme Court — thus extending a protracted battle for control of the state House of Representatives.

Dodge said she wants every legal vote to be counted.

“We spent about four days reviewing the decisions, reviewing the ballots, reviewing the facts, and have concluded that there are at least four instances that deserve further review,” she said.

Dodge’s attorney, Patrick Munson, filed an “application for relief” with the Alaska Supreme Court. The court will schedule a hearing and review the process of the recount. But Munson said he’s not sure how they will proceed.

“It’s pretty vague under Alaska law, to be honest with you,” Munson said. “And the court has a lot of leeway to fashion a proceeding that is tailored to the issues that are before them. They’ll come up with a proceeding that works efficiently for everyone to get to the truth.”

The Supreme Court Clerk’s office declined to comment on what comes next as they had not reviewed the complaint yet.

The Division of Elections will be represented by an assistant attorney general, but they don’t know exactly who at this point: The attorney closest to the process has not been retained by the Dunleavy administration.

Dodge’s campaign will be paying for the court proceeding and has started accepting contributions again.

“And we have set up a legal fund, which is the appropriate vehicle, apparently. And we have confidence in this process,” Dodge said.

The outcome of this race could determine control of the Alaska House. If LeBon’s victory stands, there will be 21 Republicans — a slim majority in the 40-member legislative body.

If Dodge’s appeal results in her winning the seat, the House will be split 20-20.

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