Every vote counts, they say -- and that was never more true than on Friday in Alaska, where a Republican won a state House race by a single vote following a recount.
On a day that Alaskans were primarily focused on a frightening earthquake that caused considerable damage, Republican Bart LeBon, a retired banker, defeated Democrat Kathryn Dodge by a single vote after both were previously tied with 2,661 votes each.
Following the recount, LeBon gained two extra votes, while Dodge got one additional vote, making LeBon the victor.
The election had its share of controversy. Before the recount, a mystery ballot was found weeks ago on the table in a voting precinct, potentially determining the fate of the election. In the end, it wasn’t counted because it turned out to be a spoiled ballot by a voter who made a mistake on it.
If LeBon’s victory is certified, Alaska will become a single-party state with the GOP holding the House, Senate and governor’s office.
The Democrat still has five days to appeal the election outcome to the state Supreme Court. It remains unclear if her campaign is seriously considering the challenge.
“People kept calling it close,” Dodge once said of the race. “I just didn’t know it was going to be squeaky.”
But the Republican believes the election and the ballot counting that lasted for three weeks is far from over, saying he expected a legal challenge from whoever loses the recount.
“I’m pretty sure this has got another layer to it,” he said. “I would be thrilled if it was over, but is this over? I just don’t think so.”
“I’m pretty sure this has got another layer to it. I would be thrilled if it was over, but is this over? I just don’t think so.”
If the Democrat decides to pursue a legal action and the new recounts puts the two candidates at a tie, the winner would be decided by a coin toss.
The current state House speaker, Democrat Bryce Edgmon, won his 2006 primary election after a coin toss.
He said the practice of deciding the winner through a coin toss is “not something I would wish for anybody to go through.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.