Mayoral candidates want partial recount of recount

Posted: Thursday, April 24, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) The Anchorage mayor's race has come down to a potential recount of a recount.

Former assemblyman Mark Begich and incumbent Mayor George Wuerch are asking for a second recount on ballots from 27 of the 122 election precincts.

In the April 1 election, Begich fell just short of the minimum votes needed 45 percent plus one to win outright. A count of absentee and questioned ballots April 14 put him 18 votes over the 45 percent mark. Citing the narrow margin, Wuerch asked for a recount.

Late Tuesday, after almost two days of recounting, acting municipal clerk Linda Heim said a Begich campaign worker told her of one precinct with possible problems. Heim asked for a list of all precincts that raised questions. Begich's team came back with a list of 13 precincts. Wuerch's camp listed 17 precincts it wants recounted.

The campaigns cited three of the same precincts among the 30.

Problems cited include discrepancies between the number of votes originally recorded and those recorded in the recount, a drop in votes for a candidate or an increase for the opponent.

Heim said the city is not required to recount the recount. But she wants to ensure a fair election process, she told the Anchorage Daily News. Tuesday evening, Heim met with other officials to consider whether to recount the precincts.

Heim said they also would take up the question of whether to exclude so-called Mickey Mouse ballots'' from the vote count.

The campaigns disagree about whether such votes for candidates not qualified to hold office in Anchorage should be included in the overall vote count.

Still pending are lawsuits challenging Proposition 2, which voters approved April 1. It reduced the minimum winning mayoral vote percentage to 45 percent, effective this election, and removed the minimums for Anchorage School Board and Assembly races.

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