Northern Alaska House Democratic primary recount to occur Monday

Election review board members work to certify the primary results at the Alaska Division of Elections office in Juneau, Aug. 30, 2016. (By Andrew Kitchenman/KTOO)

Election review board members work to certify the primary results at the Alaska Division of Elections office in Juneau on Aug. 30. (By Andrew Kitchenman/KTOO)

There will be a recount Monday of the Democratic primary results for the House district covering the North Slope and Northwest Arctic boroughs.

Representative Benjamin Nageak requested the recount for District 40. Nageak trails Dean Westlake by four votes in the certified count.

Division of Elections Director Josie Bahnke  said the recount will take place in Juneau.

“We’ve got staff and state review board members that will be counting the ballot using four optical scan units,” Bahnke said. “So, both candidates have been informed and are allowed to have one observer at each unit.”

Nageak said he’s hopeful about the recount.

“If it came to be that it was, you know, positive for my campaign, I think it would be great,” Nageak said. “We’ll never know until we do it. I mean, it’s only four votes.”

Nageak caucuses with the Republican House majority.

Republican officials have raised concerns about the handling of ballots in the Kobuk River village of Shungnak. Voters were wrongly given ballots for both the Republican primary and the primary for all other parties.

Westlake received 47 votes in Shungnak and Nageak received three, according to the certified results.

Nageak has hired election law attorney Timothy McKeever to advise him. Nageak said all options are on the table for pursuing a legal challenge to the results.

“There’s a lot of stuff that happened during the election, not only in my area but … a lot of places in the state,” Nageak said.

Some Republicans in the North Slope Borough and elsewhere have said they weren’t allowed to vote in the Democratic primary, or were required to file questioned ballots.

The Democratic primary is open to all voters.

Bahnke didn’t provide a timeframe for when the recount would be completed.

Westlake couldn’t be reached for comment.

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