AK-Sen: Big Vote-Counting Update: UPDATED – Begich leads!: UPDATE X2 – Begich leads by 800+ votes!

(Democrat Mark Begich is expanding his lead!)

Before today’s count:

Ted Stevens 106,594
Mark Begich 103,337
Margin 3,257

Nearly 28,000 absentee votes have been added to the tally.

The updated tally, courtesy of the Alaska Secretary of State:

Ted Stevens 118,602
Mark Begich 117,631
Margin 971

Convicted felon Ted Stevens picked up 12,008 votes.  Mark Begich picked up 14,294 votes.  Begich netted a 2,286-vote gain. Big movement as the margin closed to under 1,000 votes!

Remember that there were 61,000 absentee ballots and 9,500 early ballots remaining before today’s update.  If the remaining roughly 42,500 absentee and early ballots to be counted after this afternoon’s update come down at the same percentages as the first 28,000, then Stevens should gain an additional 18,226 votes, and Begich should gain an additional 21,696 votes.  This would net Begich a 3,470-vote gain, giving Begich an estimated 2,500-or-so vote lead heading into the counting of the 20,000 questioned ballots.

Who else is looking forward to the continued absentee and early vote counting?

UPDATE: The latest count from the Alaska Secretary of State has Begich leading:

Ted Stevens 125,016
Mark Begich 125,019
Margin 3-vote lead for Begich! Holy cow!

Since today’s counting began, convicted felon Ted Stevens has picked up 18,422 votes.  Mark Begich picked up 21,682 votes.  Begich netted a 3,260-vote gain.  Begich leads by PRECISELY THREE VOTES!

The update represents 43,000 ballots added to the tally overall.  Remember that there were 61,000 absentee ballots and 9,500 early ballots remaining before today’s update.  If the remaining roughly 27,500 absentee and early ballots to be counted after this latest update come down at the same percentages as the first 43,000, then Stevens should gain an additional 11,781 votes, and Begich should gain an additional 13,866 votes.  This would net Begich a 2,085-vote gain, giving Begich an almost-2,100 vote lead heading into the counting of the 20,000 questioned ballots.

UPDATE 2: The latest count from the Alaska Secretary of State has Begich leading:

Ted Stevens 131,382
Mark Begich 132,196
Margin 814-vote lead for Begich!!!

Since today’s counting began, convicted felon Ted Stevens has picked up 24,788 votes.  Mark Begich picked up 28,859 votes.  Begich has netted a 4,071-vote gain overall.  Begich leads by 814 votes!

The Anchorage Daily News reports:

The state Division of Elections tallied about 60,000 absentee, early and questioned ballots on Wednesday. The ballots broke heavily in Begich’s favor, erasing the 3,000-vote lead that Stevens had after election night last Tuesday.The state still needs to count at least 15,000 questioned ballots and an estimated 20,000 mailed absentee ballots that made it to the Division of Elections after election day last Tuesday.

Vote counters have now combined questioned ballots along with early and absentee ballots, which makes projecting a bit more difficult as questioned ballots are ostensibly much more unpredictable than the early and absentee ballots.

That said, if the remaining 35,000 ballots left (15,000 questioned and 20,000 absentee) follow the same rates as the first roughly-60,000 ballots, that would mean 14,459 more votes for Stevens and 16,834 more votes for Begich, an additional 2,375 vote net gain for Begich.  Again, though, with the unpredictability of questioned ballots, take this projection with a large grain of salt.  It is worth noting that Kos lays out that the remaining ballots to be counted are largely from Begich-friendly districts.  And the electoral experts at FiveThirtyEight.com say that “Mark Begich is now an overwhelming favorite to win the Alaska Senate seat.”  Stay tuned!

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