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LaFrance and allies ‘confident’ in lead over Bronson after vote count Wednesday in Anchorage mayoral election

As ballots continue to be counted in Anchorage’s runoff elections, former Assembly Speaker Suzanne LaFrance maintains her lead over Mayor Dave Bronson.

Wednesday, an extra 8,767 ballots were added to the full count of 59,786 ballots, giving LaFrance 54% of the vote to Bronson’s 46%.

Ballots are still received, processed and counted by election officials. They had received and sorted a total of 70,401 ballot packages as of 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Several thousand ballots cast by voters on Tuesday had not yet been sorted – at the election center, more than two dozen trays containing about 200 ballots each sat on racks, awaiting processing – and other ballots will arrive through the postal system over the next few years. days.

The latest results showed LaFrance’s lead narrowed slightly from election night, from 10 points Tuesday to 8 points Wednesday.

“I’m still excited about these early results, as well as the high energy of last night’s election night,” LaFrance said in an interview Wednesday after the results were released. “We will follow additional results. And you know, we haven’t announced anything yet, but I can say that we are confident and optimistic about where we are right now.

Bronson campaign coordinator Blake Stieren declined to comment on the latest results.

But on Wednesday morning, people who worked with or were aligned with the campaigns said it would be difficult, if not impossible, for Bronson to overcome his vote deficit and achieve a victory.

“We don’t see a recent election under the mail-in voting system where the final result changed by more than five points between the election night result and the final result,” said John-Henry Heckendorn, associate director of Ship Creek Group. , a political firm that worked on LaFrance’s campaign. “And usually it’s more of a one to two point shift.”

He referred to the 2022 municipal elections, where conservative candidates benefited from vote changes ranging from 2 to 5% after the publication of the first results. Although margins in some races for Assembly and school board seats have narrowed, no leads have been reversed.

(Previous cover: LaFrance leads Bronson in Anchorage mayoral runoff)

Speaking to supporters at his campaign headquarters Tuesday evening after preliminary results were released, Bronson said “this is very much about to change” and promised to wait until more votes have been counted to admit defeat or claim victory.

“Bronson is talking about doubling the threshold for vote changes,” Heckendorn said.

The results can be reversed in very close races where the gap between the candidates is tight. This was the case in the 2021 runoff, when Bronson initially trailed then-Assemblyman Forrest Dunbar by 114 votes. But a conservative bias in late voting meant that each batch of ballots added to the vote total helped Bronson, and by the time of certification he had not only overtaken Dunbar but also expanded his lead to 1,193 votes.

However, it is unlikely that such a change will take place this time.

“The size of the delta right now — 10 points — is just a lot to overcome,” said Joelle Hall, president of the Alaska AFL-CIO and treasurer of an independent spending group supporting LaFrance . Hall was speaking Wednesday morning, before the latest preliminary results were released. Hall added that she expects about 30,000 more ballots to be outstanding.

Those ballots “would have to have a radically different composition in order to really bring down that trend,” she said.

“At some point it becomes a math equation,” said political consultant Matt Shuckerow, who worked for Bronson’s re-election but was not speaking on behalf of the campaign Wednesday.

“Assuming 90,000 votes were cast, Bronson’s campaign is projected to receive approximately 56.5 percent of all remaining votes cast in his favor. Based on the voting results that Anchorage saw last night, that’s a very difficult hill to climb,” Shuckerow said at midday.

Recent history isn’t on Bronson’s side either.

“The past is only prologue,” said consultant Jim Lottsfeldt, who worked with the LaFrance campaign.

He pointed out that if you look at most recent Anchorage municipal elections and compare the results from the first night to the results 10 days later, “it just hasn’t changed that much.” Proportionality remained.

This dynamic goes against a local political axiom that conservatives tend to vote later, meaning early results lean more liberal but are corrected to the right as more ballots are cast are counted. But after Anchorage voters had several years to get used to voting by mail, that trend subsided. Political partisans and people particularly tied to local elections may tend to vote early, Lottsfeldt said, but most middle-of-the-road voters voted throughout the election window until the final day.

“People vote when they vote,” he said.

The likelihood that late-counted ballots would lean enough in Bronson’s favor to melt away LaFrance’s lead, he said, has little basis in recent election realities.

“I just don’t think there’s going to be much change,” Lottsfeldt said.

Healing the Ballots

The results of the second round of elections will not be official until their certification by the Assembly, scheduled for May 31.

Voters who receive a cure letter due to a signature issue have until May 29 at 4 p.m. to resolve the issue in order for their ballot to count. Election officials send voters a remedy letter when the ballot envelope does not contain the voter’s signature and when the voter’s signature cannot be verified.

Voters can resolve signature issues in three ways: by returning their repair letter through the U.S. Postal Service, by visiting the election center, or by using TXT2Cure with their smartphone.

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