Court rules Virginia House race tied, victor to be picked 'by lot'

Court rules Virginia House race tied, victor to be picked 'by lot'

Kerry Wise
December 21, 2017

With the parties split 50-50, there is no mechanism to break ties and any legislation short of 51 votes does not advance.

The recount was one of four scheduled for House races with very close outcomes.

There will be a recount Wednesday in the 68th District, which includes parts of Richmond, Henrico, and Chesterfield. A victory for the Democrat would split control of the House of Delegates 50-50 and end Republican control of the chamber, while a victory for the Republican would mean the GOP would continue in the majority.

"While it appeared yesterday that Shelly Simonds was elected, it's obvious now that the result will remain unclear for a while longer", Virginia House Republican leadership said in a statement Wednesday. The recounted votes still must be certified by a court Wednesday, although officials expected that no ballots would be challenged.

Virginia law says that in the event of a tie, the election board will determine the victor "by lot", after which point Republicans believe the loser can petition for another recount; however, there is some disagreement among Virginia election experts as to how the law should be applied in this case.

The parties may have to reach a power-sharing agreement to avoid chaos in the House. It would mean a rare power-sharing agreement may have to be brokered.

The official, Kenneth Mallory, wrote that the ballot had both candidates' names bubbled in for the 94th District race. David Yancey but that the voter had made another mark to strike out Simonds' name.

Control of the Virginia state House of Delegates is still up for grabs as Republicans appear to have lost a 16-seat majority with a one-vote defeat in a dramatic recount election.

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Shelly Simonds beat three-term incumbent Republican Del.

The recount is the first to flip the results of a Virginia House race in at least 20 years, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

Election officials presiding over the five-hour recount on Tuesday had discarded that ballot.

One tiny bit of good news for Democrats on an otherwise depressing day came on Tuesday afternoon.

A Republican delegate in Fairfax County held onto his seat following his district's recount last week.

In a call with reporters Tuesday night, Simonds thanked her supporters and expressed surprise at the results of the recount.

State officials were having discussions Wednesday afternoon about next steps and when they might schedule a meeting to declare a victor, a process that could be complicated with some officials already on Christmas vacation.