Note: An earlier version of this story reported the next absentee count will take place on Nov. 16. That has been moved to Nov. 19, says Div. of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai.
Haines Republican Representative Bill Thomas now holds a two-vote lead over Sitka Democrat Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins in the race for House District 34.
Here are the totals as of Tuesday evening, from Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai:
- Bill Thomas: 4,054
- Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins: 4,052
Kreiss-Tomkins watched the absentee ballot count in person today.
“It’s monotonous,” he said Tuesday afternoon. “It’s literally feeding a ballot counter thousands of paper stock ballots.”
But the counting isn’t over. More ballots could still arrive by mail, two more count dates are on the calendar, and anything can happen.
“There are still 167 absentee ballots that were requested and haven’t come in by mail yet,” Kreiss-Tomkins said. “At least a couple of those, and probably some kind of percentage of those, will come in by mail, and who knows what way they’re going to swing.”
There also are three question ballots from Port Alexander left to count.
Thomas, also reached by phone in Juneau, called the election a “see-saw,” and reiterated his worry about Southeast’s clout in the next legislative session.
He says he’ll have a seat on Finance, but has already lost the chairmanship. And he noted that Sitka Republican Sen. Bert Stedman – although returned to office by voters – will no longer be co-chair of Senate Finance.
“Very rarely has a district ever lost two co-chairs of Finance, in the history of the state. This might be the first time,” Thomas said. “We’re going to have to fight hard to get over it, either one way or the other. It’ll put more work on either Jonathan or I. There’s less capital and more people who want it. Either way, ti’s going to be a tough battle for whoever.”
Additional ballot counts, for absentee votes that have yet to arrive by mail, are set for Nov. 19 and 21.
The district includes the candidates’ hometowns as well as Metlakatla, Craig, Hoonah, Angoon, Kake, Klukwan, Port Alexander, Pelican, Elfin Cove, Klawock, Kasaan and Hydaburg.
CoastAlaska’s Ed Schoenfeld contributed to this report.