Election officials in Virginia have finalized election results in a race where voters were given the wrong ballots.
The three-member State Board of Elections certified two controversial House of Delegates elections in the Fredericksburg area. At issue are 147 voters who were were given the wrong ballots on Election Day.
Republicans have been pushing for election officials to certify the two Republican candidates as the winner. But Democrats say voters were clearly disenfranchised, and Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says they’re likely to pursue that argument in court. “It’s never wise to predict what an individual judge is going to do," Farnsworth admitted. "But it does seem like the smarter money is on the judge not ordering a new reelection.”
If the court does not order a new election, Democrats could pursue a challenge in the House of Delegates. Quentin Kidd at Christopher Newport University says a Republican-controlled House of Delegates is unlikely to order a new election, though. “If you just add in the element of partisan politics in this, why would they call a special election that could potentially lose them a seat in the General Assembly in the House of Delegates?”
Unless a recount changes the results, Republicans will hold a 51-49 majority in the House of Delegates.
The House seat at the center of this firestorm is the one currently held by Republican Speaker Bill Howell, who is stepping down this year. The margin of victory there is 82 votes, which means Democrats are likely to pursue a recount in an election where dozens absentee ballots were thrown out and dozens of voters were given the wrong ballot.