Delayed count shows high Alaska turnout

Nov. 17, 2008 at 4:47 PM
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Alaska's Nov. 4 voter turnout, initially thought to be suspiciously low, may actually end up breaking records, officials said.

With Gov. Sarah Palin on the Republican presidential ticket and GOP U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens fighting for his political life against Democratic challenger Mark Begich, political observers felt certain Alaska would better its all-time record turnout of 320,000. But the earlier stages of ballot-counting didn't indicate that, prompting widespread speculation of election fraud, the Anchorage Daily News reported Monday.

The culprit has turned out to be a record number of absentee ballots, which weren't tallied until later, state election officials said.

"I think people were premature to jump to conclusions that voter turnout was very low," Gail Fenumiai, state elections division director, told the newspaper. "It's apparent that a large number of people in this state chose to vote absentee versus in person on Election Day."

Including the absentee ballots, the counting of which is set to wrap up Tuesday, Alaska will likely break it turnout record after all, the newspaper said.

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