Peltola gains in Alaska’s updated special U.S. House election results

photo collage of three people
U.S. House candidates Sarah Palin, Mary Peltola and Nick Begick III. (Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

Democrat Mary Peltola has slightly increased her lead in the special U.S. House race. 

The Division of Election released an update Tuesday in the three-way contest to see who will serve the remainder of the late Congressman Don Young’s term. With an additional 22,000 votes counted, Peltola gained over Republican rivals Sarah Palin and Nick Begich.

Peltola is now 7.5 percentage points ahead of Palin. She was 6 points ahead last week.

Peltola has 38.9% of the vote, Palin has 31.4% and Begich has 28.2%.

The ballots included in Tuesday’s update are early, absentee and questioned ballots from districts all over the state.

Thousands of ballots remain uncounted. The Division of Elections expects to provide new updates on Friday but the winner won’t be determined until the end of the month. Ballots postmarked on Election Day have until Aug. 31 to arrive. After the deadline is met, the Division of Elections will determine who finished last. That candidate will be eliminated and his or her ballots will be redistributed according to the voter’s second choice, if there is one.

If the current order holds, Palin could win the seat if enough of Begich’s voters chose her as their second.

This is the first election in Alaska to be decided by ranked choice voting. The winner of the special election will take office in September. The term expires in January.

For more elections coverage visit alaskapublic.org/elections.

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Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org.