Yes, Virginia, one vote really matters

Posted December 22, 2017

The three-judge panel ruled that the mark for Simonds was crossed out so the ballot should count in Yancey's favor, bringing the official count to 11,608 votes each.

If two or more persons have an equal number of votes for any county, city, town, or district office, and a higher number than any other person, the electoral board shall proceed publicly to determine by lot which of the candidates shall be declared elected.

Because Republicans now control 50 seats in the body to Democrats' 49 seats, the random decision could hand Republicans a majority, or leave power evenly split between the parties.

In a race for the House of Delegates in Virginia, a Tuesday recount had Democratic candidate Shelly Simonds leading by one vote against Republican incumbent David Yancey in the state's 94th District.

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Still, as has been widely noted today: this is an object lesson in every vote counting.

Democrats claimed historic gains in Virginia's statehouse last month, part of the party's first big wave of victories since Republican Donald Trump won the White House a year ago.

Of the 23,866 votes cast in the Newport News district on Election Day, Yancey held a tenuous lead of just 10 votes going into Tuesday's recount. "Simply put, every vote counts".

The final tally: 11,608 for Simonds to 11,607 for Yancey.

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The ballot in question contained a mark for Democrat Shelly Simonds as well as a mark for Republican Del. His lawyer said that was the first time in Virginia that an election result had been changed in a recount. After the recount, he lost the race - by a single vote. A survey of states in 2014 by The Washington Post found that 35 had provisions for breaking ties by means of chance, though often the particulars are vague. Apparently, the state is going to draw lots to determine the victor.

"The court declares there is no victor in this election", said Newport News Circuit Court Judge Bryant L. Sugg.

"We asked the recount Court to consider this ballot". One Virginia reporter noted that a coin toss had been used in at least one past local election. The recount panel then decided that they could determine which physical ballot was the one rejected by the recount officials - even though it had not been separated from the other "no valid vote" ballots set aside yesterday, as required by procedure. Drawing lots is a insane way to choose a representative.

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