Mystery ballot could decide control of Alaska statehouse

Republican Bart LeBon has won an Alaska state House race by one vote after a ballot recount, officials said.

Before Friday's recount, LeBon and Democrat Kathryn Dodge were tied with 2,661 votes apiece.

Recount results showed LeBon with 2,663 votes while Dodge had 2,662 votes, after LeBon picked up two votes and Dodge picked up one, according to the Alaska Division of Elections.

A much talked about mystery ballot found weeks ago on a table in a voting precinct ended up playing no role in the race outcome. The ballot was tossed Friday after officials said it was determined to be a spoiled ballot from a voter who had made a mistake on it, told officials and then filled out a new ballot.

If LeBon's win holds up, the GOP will control the House, Senate and governor's office.

Dodge has five days to decide whether to appeal the outcome to the state Supreme Court. She didn't make a definitive comment after the recount, saying she and her team would "think on things," the Juneau Empire reported.

"People kept calling it close," Dodge said of the race. "I just didn't know it was going to be squeaky."

If Dodge won, the House would have been split 20-20, between Republicans and the remnant of a coalition that is largely comprised of Democrats but includes two Republicans.

LeBon, a retired banker, said Friday that he has questions about the handling of the ballot and expects a legal challenge from whoever loses the recount. He said questions about other ballots also could be raised during the recount.

If the race remains tied after the recount and possible legal challenges, state law calls for a winner to be determined "by lot." A coin toss decided a tied House race in 2006.

"I've come too far to have a coin toss settle this," LeBon said.

The current House speaker, Democrat Bryce Edgmon, won the 2006 primary through the coin toss on his way to being elected to the chamber later that year.

He said he didn't recall the race being stressful, pointing out that he also had a good job in the fishing community of Dillingham to focus on if he had lost.

On the day of the coin toss, he said his son fell sick and had to be taken to the emergency room, which occupied his attention much of the day.

Remembering the coin toss is exciting, he said, but the experience is "not something I would wish for anybody to go through."