from the Alaska Division of Elections. Superior Court No. 3
Patrick W. Munson, Boyd, Chandler, Falconer & Munson,
LLP, and Thomas P. Amodio, Reeves Amodio, LLC, Anchorage, for
Appellant and Cross-Appellee.
Katherine Demarest, Laura F. Fox, and Margaret Paton-Walsh,
Assistant Attorneys General, Anchorage, and Kevin G.
Clarkson, Attorney General, Juneau, for Appellees.
C. Stone and Molly A. Magestro, Holmes Weddle & Barcott,
PC, Anchorage, for Intervenors and Cross-Appellants.
Before: Bolger, Chief Justice, Stowers, Maassen, and Carney,
Justices, andFabe, Senior Justice. [*] [Winfree, Justice, not
BOLGER, CHIEF JUSTICE.
recount appeal arises from the 2018 Alaska House of
Representatives race in District 1. Following a recount the
election was certified, with Kathryn Dodge receiving 2, 662
votes and Barton LeBon receiving 2, 663. Dodge filed this
recount appeal pursuant to AS 15.20.510. On January 4, 2019,
we issued an order affirming the recount decision and
indicated that this opinion would follow.
FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS
November 6, 2018 general election, Dodge and LeBon ran for
the House District 1 seat in the Alaska House of
Representatives. On November 26 the State Division of
Elections (the Division) certified the election result as a
tie, with each candidate receiving 2, 661
votes. The tie triggered an automatic
recount. The recount was held on November 30, and
representatives of each candidate and political party had the
opportunity to observe and challenge the Division's
vote-counting decisions. The Division counted two additional
votes for LeBon and one additional vote for Dodge; the State
Elections Director (the Director) certified LeBon as the
winner by one vote.
the recount on November 30, Dodge challenged four ballots.
She argued that one ballot, excluded as "overvoted"
because it contained markings in more than one oval, should
have been counted for her; that two counted ballots should
have been excluded because they had been cast by individuals
who were not residents of the district; and that one ballot,
excluded due to the voter's registration in another
district, should have been counted because the voter's
registration in the other district was inadvertent. LeBon
challenged the same overvoted ballot as Dodge, but he argued
it should have been included as a vote for him. LeBon also
challenged five additional ballots. The Director maintained
her original vote-counting decisions in the face of these
December 5 Dodge filed this recount appeal challenging the
Director's recount decisions on the four ballots Dodge
had challenged. LeBon and the Alaska Republican Party
filed a motion to intervene on December 7 and then
cross-appealed on December 10, requesting review of the six
ballots LeBon had challenged. We appointed Superior Court
Judge Eric A. Aarseth to serve as a special master to conduct
hearings and other proceedings as necessary to make a report
with recommended findings of fact and conclusions of
Judge Aarseth held an evidentiary hearing on December 20 and
issued his recommendation report on December 21. He
recommended that "all decisions of the Director in
conducting the recount for House District 1 be upheld."
The parties then filed briefing with objections to Judge
Aarseth's report and responses to the objections.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
case does not present any factual disputes but instead
involves only statutory interpretation. "We exercise
independent judgment when interpreting statutes which do not
implicate an agency's special expertise or determination
of fundamental policies," such as the election statutes
at issue here. "[W]e adopt 'the rule of law that
is most persuasive in light of precedent, reason, and
Record Considered On Recount Appeal
preliminary issue in this appeal is whether we may consider
only the record developed during the recount or if we may
also consider new evidence introduced by the parties during
this appeal. Dodge argues that we should consider evidence
submitted after the conclusion of the recount. In response
the State argues that the record should be limited to the
materials available to the Director at the time of the
recount. We need not determine the scope of the evidence we
may consider in a recount appeal, however, for we would
affirm the Director's recount decision even if we
considered the evidence admitted at the