The U.S. Senate race in Alaska is still too close to call. Sen. Ted Stevens (R), just convicted of seven bribery-related felony counts, is up by 3,257 votes with 60,000 early votes and absentee votes still to be counted. Another 16,000 “questionable ballots” need to be examined.
Who will win? It’s either candidate’s game at this point.
But, there are a few questions I can answer.
Question:Why is it taking so long to count these votes?
**Answer: **In the last election in Alaska, alleged voter fraud was discovered. About two dozen people are accused of having voted twice — by mailing in an absentee ballot and then casting one in person. Those cases are pending.
To avoid such a problem, the state decided to wait until all of the in-person votes are counted before moving on to the ballots that were mailed in either early or absentee. The state needed to wait a full week before starting to count the ballots to ensure that they all had arrived. Ballots don’t need to be received by Election Day, just post-marked by then.
**Question: **What happens if Stevens wins?
**Answer: **Back in Alaska, the state Republican Party will likely support him — as they already have. Then, once he arrives in the U.S. Senate, Stevens would face an ethics investigation and ejection proceedings, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said.
Question:Who gets Stevens’ seat if he is ejected from the Senate?
**Answer: **Alaska will hold a special election.
After former Gov. Frank Murkowski appointed his daughter, Lisa Murkowski, to his Senate seat in 2004 there was public outcry and the state law changed. Even Alaskans draw a line at allowing a politician to inherit a Senate seat.
There were also rumors at the time that Stevens might try to get his son appointed to his seat if he retired. Stevens’ son, former Alaska Senate President Ben Stevens, saw his state legislative office raided by the FBI in 2006 — during Sarah Palin’s campaign for governor when she ran on an anti-corruption platform.
Question:Can Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin run in the special election?
**Answer: **Yes, but it’s not certain that she would. She is popular in the state and could probably win, but we’ll have to wait and see on that one.