RICHMOND (CN) – The Virginia State Board of Elections announced Tuesday it will delay the drawing of lots to break a tie in a critical, undecided House of Delegates race after lawyers for the Democratic candidate said she will appeal the recount court ruling that created the stalemate.
The recount had generated so much interest that the board of election’s planned to broadcast it via live video stream. It announced its decision to cancel the event in a brief note on Twitter.
Incumbent Republican Delegate David Yancey won House District 94 by 10 votes in the Nov. 7, 2017, general election, but the slim margin was enough for his opponent, Democrat Shelly Simonds, to request a recount.
That recount put Simonds ahead by one vote. Republicans have held majorities for 17 years in the State House, and currently cling to a 51-49 hold on power. A Simonds victory would force bipartisan power sharing and that would likely enabled Democratic Gov.-elect Ralph Northam to more easily advance at least some of his agenda.
But there was a wrinkle after the recount — one disallowed ballot marked for both candidates.
On Dec. 20, a three-judge state court panel declined to certify the recount, concluding a questionable ballot should be counted in favor of the Republican and tying a race that Democrats had thought they won by a single vote.
The panel, sitting in Newport News, Virginia, declared the race for Virginia’s 94th House District tied 11,608 to 11,608.
“The court declares there is no winner in this election,” said Newport News Circuit Court Judge Bryant Sugg, after the judges deliberated for more than two hours.
A drawing in the event of a tie is decreed by state law. Wednesday’s drawing would have been carried out by picking one of two film canisters with the candidates’ names inside, from a bowl.
In a press call with reporters on Tuesday evening, Simonds said she believes the recount was conducted fairly and that to allow the court to disallow it would result in a never-ending spiral of legal challenges.
“At the end of the day, this really is about the integrity of elections in Virginia,” she said.