A week past Election Day, ballot counting is winding down in most states.
But in Alaska, it’s just begun.
After tallying up in-person votes, largely from cities, on Nov 3, the state began processing ballots from rural areas a week later, on Nov. 10. The next day, the Associated Press called the state’s much-watched Senate race for incumbent Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan, who led with close to 150,000 votes to 97,600 for challenger Al Gross.
But with around 70,000 ballots remaining to be counted, Gross — an Independent running on the Democratic line who advocates climate action, including the United States rejoining the Paris climate pact — has yet to concede the race. He will need to win 75% of those remaining votes to overtake and beat Sullivan.
This story is part of DRILLED Local’s 2020 election coverage.
The state will accept mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day until Nov. 13, and ballots coming from overseas until Nov. 18.
During his campaign, Gross made addressing Alaska’s environmental problems and climate change marquee issues at debates and in radio and TV ads. On his website, Gross notes that climate change is affecting myriad Alaska industries, and promises to “move Alaska forward into sustainable, 21st century economic and energy growth,” including shifting the state away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, and tidal.
But with nearly a quarter of Alaska’s jobs and roughly half of the economy linked to oil, voters tend to lean away from criticisms of the industry in elections for federal and statewide offices.
Sullivan, who has a history of climate change denial, supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and has termed climate-change-related erosion of coastal lands, as well as over-acidification of marine waters key to Alaska’s roughly $5.4 billion commercial …