FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Republican Carl Morgan has retained his House seat by 78 votes over former legislator Irene Nicholia. That's 72 votes more than his margin over the same opponent two years ago.
Morgan defeated Democrat Irene Nicholia, who held the seat for three terms before him, 2,584 to 2,506, according to elections supervisor Shelly Growden in Fairbanks.
''It's the closest race statewide,'' Growden said. ''As we went into the election cycle, everybody was feeling that it would be another close race.''
Two years ago when Nicholia, 44, and Morgan, 50, last squared off, the candidates were tied until six votes in favor of Morgan were found in a recount. Human error due to hand counting was blamed on four of the initially obscure votes. On the other two, the ovals were at first reportedly not marked enough to be tallied.
Growden said 239 questioned ballots were reported from precincts across the district, which spans from Cook Inlet, up to Nenana, over the top of Fairbanks, to the Canada border and down to Tok in a horseshoe shape.
Of the 801 absentee votes in the district, Morgan received 443 votes, Nicholia 358. Of the questioned ballots that could be counted, Nicholia received 57 to Morgan's 29.
Morgan's overall 78-vote margin is not enough for Nicholia to ask for a state-paid recount -- that margin has to be within .5 percent of the total votes cast. But she can request one after the election is certified if she pays a $750 fee. Election certification should occur in early December, Growden said.
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