Forget the Recount: VA Race to Be Decided by Drawing Name

Judges uphold tossed ballot, tying race for Virginia House
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2017 5:45 PM CST
This image provided by the City of Newport News via the "Virginian-Pilot" shows a copy of the ballot at the center of a recount election dispute.   (City of Newport News/The Virginian-Pilot via AP)

(Newser) – Well, that didn't last long. Three judges and a sloppily filled-in ballot have erased Shelly Simonds' dramatic one-vote Virginia House win that made headlines Tuesday, the New York Times reports. Republican incumbent David Yancey held a 10-vote lead after Election Day for Virginia's 94th House District. But a recount Tuesday gave challenger Simonds a one-vote win and Democrats a 50-50 tie in the Virginia House. The recount ended 17 years of Republican control in the Virginia House, the Washington Post notes. But on Wednesday, Republicans took the recount result to court over a ballot that had been discarded by election officials during the recount, the Virginian-Pilot reports. The problem: Bubbles for both Yancey and Simonds had been filled in.

Judges on Wednesday ruled the ballot should be counted as a vote for Yancey. Simonds' bubble had a strike through it, and all other votes on the ballot were for Republicans. Yancey and Simonds are now tied at 11,608 votes each, and Republicans hold a 50-49 majority in the Virginia House. The next representative of the 94th House District will now be chosen "by lot," as per state law. The chairman of Virginia's board of elections says this will most likely involve picking a name out of a bowl. Whoever loses the drawing can still petition for a second recount. "I'm really grateful that every vote has been counted," Yancey says. But Democrats are upset the ballot wasn't challenged until after Republicans had approved the recount results and congratulated Simonds on her victory. (Read more Virginia stories.)

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