Additional ballots nudge Centennial Hall debt question from ‘no’ to ‘yes’

By October 4, 2019 October 9th, 2019 Election Coverage, Juneau, Local Government
Juneau City Clerk Beth McEwen closes out an AccuVote machine count of absentee and questioned ballots with election workers Betty Cook and Tami Burgett at City Hall on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019.

Juneau City Clerk Beth McEwen closes out an AccuVote machine count of absentee and questioned ballots with election workers Betty Cook and Tami Burgett on Friday at City Hall. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

Update (11:10 p.m. Friday)

Juneau city officials have unofficially gotten voters’ permission to borrow up to $7 million to pay for Centennial Hall upgrades. 

That’s a reversal from election night, when opponents of Proposition 2 led by 16 votes. 

The new, unofficial tally is 4,279 “yes” votes and 4,168 “no” votes on the debt question.

No other election outcomes changed after Friday’s count of 2,166 absentee and questioned ballots. However, it did resolve another close race. The apparent second place winner of the school board race remains Emil Mackey. 

Martin Stepetin Sr. had trailed by 194 votes on election night. He stuck around City Hall for hours on Friday night during the counting process to get some closure on his race. 

Ann Stepetin, Deedie Sorensen, Jeff Short and Martine Stepetin wait for a machine count of absentee and quesitoned ballots at Juneau City Hall on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. Contrary to the sign, the machine count didn't begin until about 8:40 p.m.

Ann Stepetin, Deedie Sorensen, Jeff Short and Martin Stepetin wait for a machine count of absentee and questioned ballots on Friday at Juneau City Hall. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

“Congratulations to Emil Mackey, he’s got the position,” Stepetin said. “I learned a lot, I feel really confident if I ran another race, I would know more. I’d have a more effective campaign, that’s for sure. I’m proud of this campaign as it stands.” 

The additional ballots put Juneau’s voter turnout at nearly one-in-three registered voters. 

A board is expected to certify the results on Tuesday. Candidates and groups of 10 eligible voters can formally contest the unofficial results before then. After certification, a defeated candidate or group of 10 eligible voters has two days to request a recount.

Original story

Juneau City Clerk and election official Beth McEwen updates a whiteboard with information about absentee and questioned ballots in a conference room at City Hall on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019.

Beth McEwen, Juneau city clerk and election official, updates a whiteboard with information about absentee and questioned ballots in a conference room at Juneau City Hall on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

On Friday, Juneau election officials are expected to announce updated, unofficial results of Tuesday’s local election.

Election workers are spending the day holed up in a conference room at Juneau City Hall, going through some 2,000 absentee and questioned ballots. The workers are verifying the validity of the ballots.

City clerk and local election official Beth McEwen said that process should wrap Friday afternoon or evening. Then, election workers will run the valid ballots through AccuVote machines to tally votes.

Unofficial results from election night were close in two races.

First, the ballot measure to authorize the city to borrow up to $7 million for Centennial Hall improvements was a narrow “no” by 16 votes as of Tuesday night.

Also, in the second place school board race, Emil Mackey led Martin Stepetin Sr. by 194 votes.

Candidates and groups of 10 eligible voters can formally contest the unofficial results before the certification process Tuesday. After certification, a defeated candidate or group of 10 eligible voters has two days to request a recount.

Elections workers should be able to fill in the last two columns of these unofficial election results by the end of the day Friday.

This story has been updated.

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