Fourth Circuit Rejects New Vote for Virginia House Seat

RICHMOND, Va. (CN) – The Fourth Circuit on Wednesday rejected a call for a new election in a contentious Virginia House race by voters were given the wrong ballot when they showed up to vote in November.

The three-judge panel did not explain its rationale for rejecting the request from Kenneth Lecky and his fellow plaintiffs, four of 147 voters given wrong ballots in a district where the House race was decided by just 73 votes.

Plaintiffs Lecky and his wife volunteered for the campaign of Democrat Joshua Cole, who lost the race to represent District 28 in the state House to Republican Robert Thomas. They say they were dismayed and confused when they were handed a ballot without his name on it Nov. 7, but went ahead and voted on the ballots they were given.

The plaintiffs said they decided to file a legal challenge to the election after they learned the ballot mix up effected a twice as many voters as represented in the margin of victory.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III concluded the “garden-variety irregularities” that transpired in the House district on election day didn’t merit federal intervention and rejected the plaintiffs’ request for a new vote.

In announcing their appeal of that ruling on Monday, their attorney, Marc Elias, said ““The results of the House District election are unknown and unknowable.”

“[The Leckys] should have been put in the right voter districts or at least given provisional ballots … this ordinary citizen, doing exactly what we hope that citizens do, was ignored,” Elias said.

The suit accused state and local District 28 Board of Elections officials of the misconduct but the officials argued, successfully, the mix up was a mistake without animus and did not warrant a new election.

The Virginia General Assembly’s 2018 session began Wednesday morning. The GOP currently holds a 51-49 majority in the body.

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