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Virginia may settle a tie election by drawing names out of a bowl

Control of the Virginia legislature hinges on just one disputed vote

by Josh Marcus
Dec 20 2017, 8:30pm

A race for a seat in Virginia’s House of Delegates was settled by just one vote Tuesday after a recount, but a court threw that result out Wednesday and refused to certify a winner.

That sends the race for the 94th District into a tie, along with control of the lower house of the Virginia legislature, which hinges on this one seat. Now, under Virginia law, the election will be settled by chance.

James Alcorn, the chairman of the state board of elections, told the Washington Post it might choose by drawing a name out of a glass bowl. The loser of the random pick can demand a recount if they’re unhappy with the result.

Republican incumbent David Yancey originally won the race in November by a razor-slim margin of 10 votes, keeping the House in Republican hands. A recount flipped the result, giving his opponent, Democrat Shelly Simonds, the win by a single vote, with a final tally of 11,608 to 11,607.

It also gave her party a 50th seat among the 100 in the House, ending a 17-year run of GOP control.

Observers from both parties signed off on the recount Tuesday, and Republicans congratulated Simonds, but House Republicans challenged the result on Wednesday, after a Republican recount observer said a vote for Yancey had been improperly thrown out.

The three-judge panel hearing the case in Newport News, Virginia. agreed, saying a ballot that had marks for both candidates, but with Simmonds’ name struck out, should count for Yancey.

“The court declares there is no winner in this election,” circuit court Judge Bryant L. Sugg said Wednesday, after the judges deliberated for more than two hours.

“The ruling today makes certain every vote in this historic election was counted,” Yancey told reporters as he left the courthouse.
Two other Virginia races are set for recounts this week, prolonging the final note of an election season that saw Republicans bleed away their 66-seat majority in the House and lose the governorship to Democrat Ralph Northam.