One Vote Creates 50-50 Split in Virginia Legislature - NBC4 Washington
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One Vote Creates 50-50 Split in Virginia Legislature

Prior to the November elections, the Republicans held a 66-34 majority in the House

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    Election officials in Newport News, Va., examine ballots that a computer failed to scan during a recount for a House of Delegates race on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017. Republican incumbent Del. David Yancey had won against Democratic challenger Shelly Simonds by just 10 votes in November.

    A recount for a Virginia House of Delegates race flipped the winner from the Republicans to the Democrats, creating a 50-50 split in the House.

    Election officials in Newport News recounted ballots cast in the 94th District and determined Democrat Shelly Simonds defeated Republican incumbent David Yancey by one vote. The results will be officially certified on Wednesday.

    The Virginia House Democratic Caucus congratulated Simonds in a statement.

    “We are ecstatic to welcome Shelly Simonds to our caucus,” said House Democratic Leader David Toscano and caucus chair Charniele Herring. “Shelly ran a fierce campaign focused on education and access to affordable health care. We are one vote closte rto expanding Medicaid and extending access to affordable health care to nearly 400,000 people.”

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    The caucus said there were no challenged ballots and do not expect any changes after the results are finalized by the Circuit Court on Wednesday.

    In a statement, House Republican leaders also congratulated Simonds and said they stand ready to establish a bipartisan framework for the House to work under "efficiently and effectively."

    "The responsibilities of the House of Delegates as an institution transcend party labels, and our obligations to govern this Commonwealth remain," the statement said. "As we have said for the last six weeks, we are committed to leading and governing alongside our colleagues. We must balance the budget, grow our economy, improve our schools, and fight the opioid crisis, to name a few of the tasks before us."

    Prior to the November elections, the Republicans held a 66-34 majority in the House. In the Virginia Senate, the GOP holds a slim lead, 21-19.

    Last week, Republican Del. Tim Hugo held onto his seat in Fairfax County after a recount had a marginal impact on his 100-plus vote lead. Two more recounts are set to take place on Wednesday and Thursday for districts in and around Richmond and in the Fredericksburg area.

    If Democrats and Republicans ultimately find themselves evenly split, a messy dynamic could unfold. The parties may have to compromise just to elect a speaker and assign committee chairmanships.

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    The last time Virginia's House was evenly divided was 20 years ago, when the parties reached a power-sharing agreement. But if no agreement can be reached, prolonged chaos could ensue.