Something’s off. Something is really messed up in Alaska. The Washington Post stops short of calling it voter fraud.

Elections officials, party leaders and voters are wondering what happened this Tuesday in the Last Frontier, where turnout was surprisingly low and two lawmakers who have been the focus of FBI corruption investigations appear to have been reelected despite polling suggesting they would be ousted.

The final voter turnout numbers won’t be available until absentee ballots are counted, which could take at least another week. But this year’s total is not expected to eclipse Alaska’s 66 percent turnout in 2004 or its 60 percent clip in 2000. (This is especially odd given that Alaska’s Board of Elections saw a 12.4 percent hike in turnout for the August primaries, before Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was selected as the Republican Party’s vice presidential nominee.)

Alaska returns (without the uncounted absentee and contested ballots) show the McCain-Palin ticket garnering 136,348 votes. In 2004, President Bush got 190,889 votes, a “significant disparity“, the Anchorage Press reported. “These numbers only add to the oddity of this election in Alaska; in the run-up to Tuesday, Alaskan voters seemed energized to vote for a ticket with our governor on it, despite the barrage of criticism Palin faced.”

Couple the dip in support for McCain-Palin with surprising victories for longtime Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, who was found guilty Oct. 27 on seven felony charges, and Rep. Don Young, who is under investigation by the FBI, and a lot of pollsters and voters were left stumped.

It’s not like Dewey vs. Truman, when the last polling was done a week prior to the election.  Yes, pollsters have taken some flak in election years past about predictions, but there was a major polling consensus on this race in favor of Begich, the Democratic challenger to Ted Stevens.

Pollster Del Ali of the Maryland firm Research 2000, which tracked the House and Senate races in Alaska, said he was “not happy” how the races — and dead wrong polling numbers — turned out. Research 2000 had reported in the days before the election that Democratic challenger Mark Begich, an Anchorage attorney, was leading the 84-year-old Stevens by 22 percentage points (Daily Kos apparently paid for the polls).

Other pollsters didn’t fare much better. Anchorage pollster and Republican political consultant David Dittman, a Stevens supporter, predicted a “solid Begich win.” The national polling firm, Rasmussen Reports, accurately predicted every Senate race in the country within the margin of error in their most recent polls — except Alaska. Alaska pollsters Ivan Moore, Craciun Research Group and Hays Research Group all also had Stevens and Young trailing in the lead-up to the election.

Are we really to believe that the turnout in this historic election was lower than the 2000 presidential election??  With an Alaskan on the ticket?  I smell a rat.