A day after a dramatic recount handed Democrats a single-vote victory in a Virginia Residence of Delegates race, the outcome abruptly shifted on Wednesday as a 3-judge panel declared the race now tied.
The judges meeting in Newport News, Va., agreed to a Republican request to count a problematic ballot discarded the day just before, stated Philip L. Hatchett, a lawyer for David Yancey, the Republican incumbent who seemed to have lost his seat to Shelly Simonds, a Democrat. A victory by Ms. Simonds, a college board member in Newport News, would evenly split the Virginia Residence 50-50 and end 17 years of Republican majorities.
The ballot in question showed two bubbles filled in, a single for Ms. Simonds and one for Mr. Yancey, but with a fine line struck by means of the Simonds vote, according to a copy obtained by The Virginian-Pilot. The voter chose Republicans for governor and in other statewide races on the Nov. 7 ballot.
The judges ruled that the voter’s intent was to choose Mr. Yancey, Mr. Hatchett said. That gave each candidate 11,608 votes.
Beneath Virginia law, the State Board of Elections chooses the winner of a tied election “by lot,” which specialists said successfully implies a coin flip, drawing of straws, or pulling names out of a hat. The loser of a drawing may possibly petition for a recount, the law states. Virginia’s elections commissioner, Edgardo Cortés, mentioned he was awaiting a final court order before figuring out how the tie would be broken.
Mr. Yancey’s extraordinary reversal of fortune came a day right after a recount erased a ten-vote lead he held on Election Day. His lawyer mentioned that was the initial time in Virginia that an election outcome had been changed in a recount. Republicans had even congratulated Ms. Simonds and pledged to share energy in bipartisan style. Ms. Simonds took a victory lap early Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
A lawyer for the Virginia Home Democratic caucus, Marc Elias, stated that the regional court’s choice about the ballot was wrong and that he was assessing legal alternatives. “The Republicans themselves had affirmed that this result was accurate yesterday before altering their minds nowadays,” Mr. Elias stated in a statement. “After conceding this seat and their majority, they are now desperately attempting to claw both back.”
Ms. Simonds’s representative argued ahead of the judges that the disputed ballot must not be counted simply because it was an instance of an “overvote,” when numerous candidates for the very same race are chosen. However, the Virginia Division of Elections, in a guide to hand-counting ballots, seems to address the situation, displaying an instance in which a voter marks two candidates but clarifies the intention using “an added mark or marks that appear to indicate help.” In that case, the guide says, “the ballot shall be counted.”
Tied votes, which are very rare, have occasionally been broken about the country by coin tosses or the like. A City Council race in Idaho was decided by a coin toss in November, only to have the benefits reversed after a recount. A survey of states in 2014 by The Washington Post identified that 35 had provisions for breaking ties by implies of opportunity, even though usually the particulars are vague. A decade ago, Connecticut repealed its coin-toss rule in favor of deciding tied races by means of the Legislature or by a runoff — in other words, a do-more than.
The closeness of the Virginia Home race was portion of a Democratic surge that flipped 15 other Republican-held Residence seats to Democrats, who also held onto the governor’s workplace. Mr. Yancey had won the Residence district two years ago by drubbing Ms. Simonds, 57 to 42 percent.
That their rematch was so close was observed as another example in Virginia of a rebuke to President Trump. It also was a textbook lesson, in an age of fights over access to the voting booth, that each ballot matters.
Willard Hoskins, 78, a Republican-leaning voter in the district, stated he had voted for Mr. Yancey, by no means expecting how close the race would become. “If the mood of the people shifts, then watch out,” Mr. Hoskins said.
Trent Kays, an assistant college English professor who voted for Ms. Simonds, was elated by her narrow victory on Tuesday, but deeply frustrated by the court’s choice on Wednesday.
“They’re going to have to truly draw by lots,” Mr. Kays said, with a shade of disbelief. “That just appears type of antiquated. It’s like medieval ages here.”
When Mr. Kays saw on the internet a copy of the ballot in query, his discontent intensified. “My problem is, how do the judges read it and interpret it in order to make that selection?” Mr. Kays asked. Alluding to the half-punched ballots in Florida that helped send the 2000 presidential election to the Supreme Court, he mentioned, “It’s a painful memory to understand we’re back to this once again, as if the chad is hanging.”
Nevertheless, he mentioned, he now has a real-life civics lesson to teach. “This is a story I’m going to tell students about why it is crucial to go vote,” Mr. Kays mentioned. “If you don’t vote, we may possibly be selecting individuals by flipping coins, which is not the very best way to do it.”
Published at Thu, 21 Dec 2017 00:08:13 +0000