Sarah Palin is leading the pack in the special primary for U.S. House.
The Division of Elections counted the first batch of ballots on Saturday night – 109,000 of 135,000 ballots returned so far.
Palin, a Republican, has about 30% of the votes counted so far. She’s followed by Nick Begich, also a Republican, who took 19% and independent Al Gross with 12%.
The biggest surprise is that Democrat Mary Peltola is in fourth place with 7%. If that holds, she would make it to the special general ballot, along with the leading three.
She is followed by Tara Sweeney, who has 5%, and Santa Claus, with 4%.
The ballots counted Saturday night are from all over the state. They include ballots mailed, hand-delivered and cast in person.
The division says it will resume counting on Wednesday.
A lawsuit on behalf of voters who are visually impaired threw the timeline for certification in doubt on Friday. But Saturday the Alaska Supreme Court reversed the lower court judge. The order was brief. The justices said they’d explain at a later date.
The special election is to serve the remainder of the late Congressman Don Young’s term in office. Alaskans will determine the winner in the August 16 election by ranked choice voting. Meanwhile, more than 30 candidates are running to serve the congressional term that begins in January. Santa Claus, a city councilman from North Pole, is not running for the full term, but most of the other frontrunners are.