Newly counted absentee ballots in Virginia’s 8th District could swing the election of Attorney General to Democrat Mark Herring, but a new ruling from the state Board of Election is putting provisional ballots in question.
Brian Schoenenman, a Republican official on the Fairfax County Electoral Board, said via Twitter that a new vote count for the 8th District had 5,137 votes for Herring, 2,039 votes for Republican Mark Obenshain, and ten write-in votes, a change of 1,132 votes in favor of Herring. Schoeneman made the announcement after the board met early Saturday morning to investigate an apparent error in absentee ballot returns.
According to results posted on the Virginia Board of Election page, Obenshain was ahead by 1,262 votes, but those numbers did not include the new results from Fairfax County or any provisional votes cast on Election Day.
The meeting centered on discussion of the results of two optical scan machine tape records – one that had been included in the results and one that had not. The election staff was instructed to complete the canvass of votes and present their findings.Those findings are the basis of Schoenenman’s announcement.
Schoeneman said a new ruling on Friday from the State Board of Elections requires voters to be present in order for their lawyers or authorized representatives to present information on their behalf in our closed provisional ballot meeting, which means if you cast a provisional ballot, contact or visit your local Board of Election office to make sure your vote counts.
Because of the ruling, Schoeneman said all provisional vote totals in Fairfax County won't be announced until Tuesday to give people the time to come in and have their vote count. The Associated Press reported there were more than 3,000 provision or contested votes statewide to be counted.
Obenshain was the GOP's only hope of avoiding a Democratic sweep of the top three statewide offices after Terry McAuliffe won the governor's race and state Sen. Ralph Northam was elected lieutenant governor.
The candidates are seeking to succeed Republican Ken Cuccinelli, who chose to run for governor rather than seek re-election.
The attorney general is essentially the CEO of the state government law office, supervising more than 400 lawyers and support staff. The position also is historically a stepping stone to a run for governor.
Virginia election officials will certify the election results within the next day or two, and once that happens, if that margin is within half a percentage point, the commonwealth will finance a recount.
If the margin is more than that, but less than one percentage point, the trailing candidate can demand a recount at his or her own expense.