Hanging chads in Alaska primary? Don Young waits...

Jake Turcotte

We know this: one embattled lawmaker from Alaska has made it past the primary. He would be the longest serving Republican Senator in the history of our country, Ted Stevens.

His friend, Representative Don Young is, as new Democratic hero Governor Brian Schweitzer would put it, "dead-dang tied" with Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell.

It really is that close. With 437 out of 438 precincts in, the count shows Young leading by 152 votes - 42,539 to 42,387.

This raises the question - what about that other precinct?

Well, that precinct is in the town of Hughes which appears to be just northwest of smack-dab-in-the-middle in the nation's largest state. And according to the Anchorage Daily News, the phones are out, and election officials haven't been able to phone-in the results.

Hughes, according to Wikipedia, appears to be a good place to earn a living if you're a guy. Not so much, if you're female:

Males had a median income of $90,957 versus $0 for females.

So even if Parnell were to get all 63 of those votes, it would be over, right? Nope. And this is where the flashback to Florida begins.

There's still the issue of absentee ballots. The state sent out some 16,000 and has received about 7,600 of them back. If they are postmarked by election day, they can be received 10 days after being mailed in (15 days for overseas ballots). That puts us in the second week of September.

Then there's the issue of hanging chads. Yep. The Anchorage Daily News says there could be "between 5,000 and 10,000 questioned ballots that could be counted or disqualified due to people who voted in the wrong polling place, who didn't have ID, or whose ballot had some other kind of irregularity."


The guys over at SwingStateProject have dug deep into this race and determined that Young has the edge with those outstanding absentee ballots. It appears that of the collected absentee ballots so far, Young is outpolling Parnell by one percent.

One percent is a lot when you consider Young has a .16 percent lead in the regular vote count.

Right now, both Young and Parnell's campaign have estimated there are around 4,000 absentee ballots left. Assuming the breakdown we saw with the nearly 5,000 counted absentee votes carries over, Young should exceed Parnell by approximately 40 votes among the remaining 4,000 absentee votes, and his lead should thus hold.

If Young clears this hurdle, then he's not out of them Alaska woods. He's got a formidable challenge in front of him. Former state senator Ethan Berkowitz is popular and sounding like a prize-fighter. "I'll take either one of them," he said. "I could beat either one of them."

Then there's that legal thing.

Young is under federal investigation for his ties to an oil company. This is the same investigation that resulted in the recent indictments of Ted Stevens. He, thus far, has reportedly spent more than $1 million in legal fees.

Barring a primary loss, general election loss, or indictment/conviction/prison, Young will breeze to a 19th term in the US House.

Geo Beach, the host of a popular History Channel program, has it right when he says things are "Tougher in Alaska."

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