Political News

Virginia delays tie-breaking drawing in House of Delegates race

Posted December 26, 2017 2:41 p.m. EST
Updated December 26, 2017 8:47 p.m. EST

— The tie-breaker to settle a dramatic race for a seat in Virginia's House of Delegates has been delayed, after lawyers representing Democratic candidate Shelly Simonds filed a motion asking a trio of circuit court judges to reconsider their decision to allow a controversial ballot to be counted as a vote cast for her Republican opponent David Yancey.

The decision to count the controversial ballot toward Yancey turned the race, which a recount panel had declared a one-vote victory for Simonds, into a tie.

The state was set to settle the election in a name drawing on Wednesday, but the Virginia Board of Elections has delayed the drawing until at least next week.

James Alcorn, the chairman of the Virginia Board of Elections, explained the decision on Twitter, saying, "After receiving notice of the pending litigation concerning the HD94 election, we have decided to postpone tomorrow's planned drawing."

"While our planned drawing for tomorrow was in full compliance with the Code of Virginia, neutral election administrators should not be choosing election winners -- or influencing the next Speaker of the House," he continued. "Drawing names is an action of last resort. Any substantive concerns regarding the election or recount should be resolved before a random drawing is conducted. This will best serve the voters of HD94 and the rest of the Commonwealth."

Simonds' campaign is arguing that there is a 21-day window to request that the court reconsider its decision. They believe that given more time to make their argument, they can convince the judges that the ballot in question should not have been counted.

Simonds said this legal challenge was necessary to protect the integrity of Virginia's electoral system. Her campaign is not necessarily arguing against the intent of the ballot in question, but instead that it was too late in the process to offer up this challenge.

"My opponent made an end run around the clear rules of the recount," Simonds said during a conference call with reporters. "That was a violation of Virginia law and it was a violation of the court order, and it was contrary to State Board of Elections guidance."

The Simonds campaign filed its motion electronically.

Alcorn told CNN that the board is "reviewing the situation."

The outcome of this race will determine control of the House of Delegates. If Democrats win, there will be a 50-50 split in the House, meaning a power-sharing agreement will be necessary. It would be the first time in more than two decades that Republicans did not control that branch of Virginia's government.

This story has been updated with comments from the chair of the Virginia State Board of Elections.