Notes from the trail: 110,000 ballots, 21.65% turnout, with five days to go in congressional race


The Division of Elections has received over 110,000 ballots as of Monday morning, votes cast in the special primary election for Alaska’s congressional seat, now vacant since Congressman Don Young’s death on March 18.

How it breaks down: Of those ballots received, 108,480 were mailed in. The Division of Elections has also received ballots that were undeliverable and the division now counts 508,043 ballots as actually deliverable to voters, rather than the earlier number of 563,000 that had been mailed to voters on April 27.

Our math puts the turnout so far at 21.65%. Alaska voters have until Saturday to get a postmark on that ballot and send it in. Don’t forget the witness signature.

What happens on Saturday: Tabulating votes begins at 8 pm on June 11, Election Night. The absentee review boards have been reviewing ballot envelopes for eligibility since May 27, thus the painstaking work of determining eligibility and no duplicate ballots will be mostly done by 8 pm that night. The first tranche of ballots will be counted and reported by about 8:30-9 pm Saturday; check back here later this week for more details on how many ballots the Division of Elections believes it can count Saturday.

The Division of Elections is unsure if there will be additional updates on the night of June 11 after the first reported count.

The Division’s website will be updated with the initial vote count on June 11, then again for the next count on June 15, June 17, and June 21. The certification of the election is scheduled for June 25.

The first sign-waving of the season? Begich for Congress was out on a sunny Monday afternoon for drive time.

Begich spotted in sign waving crew: Nick Begich for Congress was the congressional crew first out with a sign-waving effort on the traditional corner of Northern Lights Blvd. and Seward Highway on Monday. On Tuesday, he’ll be in Spenard at the food truck festival.

Sweeney traveling: Tara Sweeney for Congress is on the road system this week between Seward and Fairbanks, where the majority of the votes are found.

Peltola, Gross in Southeast: Both Mary Peltola and Al Gross are fighting for that important Southeast Alaska blue vote. Peltola is turning out to be a real favorite among the Bernie Sanders Democrats across Southeast. This area is a stronghold for Gross as well. They’ll both be in Sitka for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting.

Sarah Palin and friends at the tele-rally with Trump.

Palin event with Trump: Last week’s tele-rally with former President Donald Trump attracted about 60 people for Sarah Palin, who was dressed to the nines and did selfies and autographs with the group.

Constant complaint: Chris Constant, a Democrat for Congress, will have a press conference today about a hateful voicemail left on his answering machine. The police chief says no, it was not a death threat, just a rude guy. The stories about it are here:

Endorsements: Sarah Palin keeps hauling in national endorsements day after day, including Sheriff David Clarke. Candidate John Coghill has the endorsement of former Sen. and Lt. Gov. Loren Leman. Kim Swanson of Wasilla endorsed Nick Begich.

Media coverage: The Washington Post will have a story out on Wednesday about the congressional race in its online edition, Must Read Alaska is told. The author is WaPo’s Dan Zak, who was throughout Alaska for a week or so last month learning about the race of 48 in the 49th state.

Disappearing act: Josh Revak has not posted anything on Facebook from his campaign for over three weeks.


  1. For the betting crowd participating in Alaskan’s favorite indoor sport: I offered my prognosis for the special election a few weeks ago. With 5 days to go I would change only a few numbers in my prediction.
    Clearly John Coghill has out performed my earlier ranking, and Josh Revak has underperformed. I would now put John into the top 4, replacing Revak.
    I was blind to Peltola’s popularity amongst the liberal candidates. I think she now takes a lot of votes away from Gross, but not enough to reach the top 4. I also think Constant has flashed and burned out even worse than I predicted.
    The hard part of my calculus, is judging how much better Nick Begich will do, and how many votes he will draw away from other Republican candidates. He is clearly the leader IMO, but if he takes the overwhelming majority of Republican, Undeclared, and Nonpartisan votes, other Republican candidates may split the remaining votes in a wilder race to the finish, opening the (remote, IMO) possibility that a liberal could ascend into the top 4..
    Conclusion: It will be: 1 Begich, 2 Sweeney, 3 Palin, 4 Coghill.

    Lowenfells, Gross, Constant, and Peltola have to compete for a smaller fraction of voters, blocking their chances of reaching the top 4. And Coghill will be very close to Palin, could even take #3 position.
    I still think Santa Claus will take very few votes, especially among any informed voters who took the time to listen to MRAK’s very valuable podcasts.
    The real winner continues to be MRAK, best coverage period.

    • Begich/Sweeney/Palin/Coghill would lead to a Sweeney victory in the general election. She is a classic RINO who can win using the same base as Lisa Murkowski

    • I bet you Peltola will be in the top 4. Not that I’m voting for her, but democrats hate Al Gross now, and Chris Constant isn’t going anywhere.

    • Everything about your predictions are totally out of left field. John Coghill? Surely a good guy but won’t break 2%. I don’t know where your enthuiasm comes from but he’s not even a contender at this point. There’s also pretty much no chance Gross isn’t in the top 4. Practically 0%. This state is still at least 35% liberal, and all mail-in ballots help liberal voters vastly outperform compared to traditional elections. And unlike on the Republican side of the ballot, there’s not nearly as many serious liberal candidates to choose from. Not to mention liberal voters have always voted far more as a monolith than right-leaning voters (5% libertarian voters every electioon cycle for example vs. maybe a half percent for Green).

      You are free to open an account on PredictIt and put some money where your mouth is. These gamblers are definitely overvaluing Palin because she is by far the most well-known for all the out of state betters, but otherwise they are painting a fairly solid picture of the state of the race. I’ve personally put the maximum $850 on Palin NO just to counter the clear bias of people around the country who aren’t actually versed in Alaskan politics.


    • Forgot to mention that Santa is definitely a meme candidate with no chance at breaking the top 4 but PredictIt is valuing this at nearly 20% because people think it’s really funny. Pretty much the easiest free money on the site right now.


  2. NB3 – conservative or RINO?
    Comes from the most liberal family in Alaska politics.
    He supported Ethan Berkowitz in his run for Anchorage Mayor against Amy Dembowski (think about that for a little bit – would any “conservative” have done that?)
    Please name one conservative bona fides in his past or record.
    Oh yeah, he shoots guns in his ads so he must be conservative (really…)?
    The same RINO AK conservatives that supported Queen Lisa for 3 election cycles, up until this election, have come out in support of NB3 (think about that a little…).
    I KNOW how Sarah Palin will vote – CONSERVATIVE.
    Not voting for Sarah Palin because of the “circus” around her is like not voting for Trump because he sends mean tweets.

  3. We “definitely” need to get rid of this voting scam, referred to as … Rank Choice. The sooner we get rid of this, the sooner we get back to normal. Otherwise, this election process will be nothing short of jobs program for an endless supply of clowns! AND(!!!), Bruce-C might have to up his math game from Calculus (dy/dx) and graduate onward to Differential Equations, Linear Algebra, and/or Game Theory.

  4. I hope a lot more people get their ballots in before June11.What a dismal turn out!! This is important to Alaskans!!

  5. In my experience, those who don’t vote or contact their reps have the biggest mouths. You all know who you are. Pathetic whiners.

  6. I voted in person, and it is thanks to Suzanne, because MRA is the only place that I’ve read about it even being possible to ignore the mail-in ballot, and vote in person.
    I’ve been busy, and just never got around to getting the needed witness signature for the ballot, so it was a great relief to vote in person instead, and be done with it.
    Thanks for all you do, Suzanne……


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