Recount finds 11-vote win for Snyder in Anchorage House race

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A recount Friday affirmed a win by Democrat Liz Snyder over Republican House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt for an Anchorage House seat, though her margin of victory narrowed slightly.

Results certified Monday showed Snyder had defeated Pruitt by 13 votes. But Friday’s recount showed an 11-vote margin of victory, with 4,574 for Snyder and 4,563 for Pruitt. This year’s election was a rematch from 2018, when Snyder lost to Pruitt.

The recount was not requested by Pruitt but by 11 others identified in their petition as voters in the Anchorage House district. State law allows a defeated candidate or 10 qualified voters who believe a mistake was made in the ballot count to request a recount.

Pruitt by text message Friday said the encouragement he had received “led me to believe that there was no one better to request this recount than those who kept reaching out asking how they could help. I am humbled by their continued and unwavering support!”

Two attorneys representing the recount request group, Joe Geldhof and Stacey Stone, attended the recount in Juneau, as did Snyder and Holly Wells, an attorney for Snyder. The hand count was conducted by members of a bipartisan review board, said Tiffany Montemayor, a spokesperson for the state Division of Elections.

More than 9,000 votes were cast in the race. Absentee ballots went through the recount process twice after the tallies during the initial recount were off from the certified results. Pruitt ultimately picked up an absentee vote and Snyder lost one in the final recount.

Snyder said the goal “was making sure all valid votes got counted, and it feels like that was achieved.”

Stone described the process as smooth and said she was pleased with it.

She cited concern, however, with polling location changes ahead of the election, “which we believe may have impacted the vote, and we’re investigating that now.” An issue of concern is whether there was any voter disenfranchisement, Stone said.

Gail Fenumiai, Division of Elections director, said notice was given of polling location changes, including flagging changes on the division website.

Neither the House nor the Senate has organized ahead of the next regular session, which starts in January. In Alaska, the chambers don’t necessarily organize along party lines. Personalities and policy positions can also factor in.

Separately, Montemayor said an audit of a statewide ballot measure that narrowly passed last month would begin Monday. The audit was sought by Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, who oversees elections. Meyer has said the audit is intended to help put to rest questions some have raised about the validity of election results tied to the vote tabulation equipment the state uses.

The measure, which would end party primaries and institute ranked-choice voting for general elections, passed with 174,032 votes, compared to 170,251 no votes, according to the certified results. Meyer has said he believes the measure passed fairly.

A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the measure has been filed.

Cori Mills, a chief assistant attorney general with the Department of Law, said Friday’s recount “verified that the voting equipment is accurate and the results, all the results, can be trusted.”