November 6, 2013

Terry McAuliffe may have won the Governor's seat, but Republicans are clinging to the one statewide office they might win by a hair.

According to unofficial results posted on Virginia's Board of Elections site, Republican Mark Obenshain leads Democrat Mark Herring by 965 votes. This is where voter purges can come in handy, and Republicans did a full purge just ahead of this election.

According to the Washington Post, a recount cannot take place or even be requested until the full election results are certified.

Local election boards on Wednesday will begin examining “provisional” ballots — cast by voters who did not present legally acceptable ID or who may have come to the wrong polling place Tuesday. The boards must finish certifying their counts by Nov. 12.

The State Board of Elections is scheduled to certify the entire count Nov. 25. Only then can the trailing candidate ask for a recount, according to board spokeswoman Nikki Sheridan.

In the 2005 attorney general’s race, it was Dec. 21 before a judicial panel certified then-Republican state Del. Robert F. McDonnell as the winner over state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) by 360 votes out of 1.94 million cast.

Herring said late Tuesday that his campaign will pursue the recount aggressively.

“The commonwealth has a process to make sure all the votes are counted, and we are going to make sure we go through that process,” Herring said. “We are going to make sure we follow the process and make sure every single vote is counted .

Is it just coincidence that this office has such tightly contested races? McDonnell over Deeds by 360 votes? Maybe, but I don't hold out a lot of hope for a recount based on how the McDonnell - Deeds recount was conducted.

The recount was conducted under the supervision of a three-judge panel and began Tuesday in local election offices and courtrooms across the state. Deeds had attempted to have all ballots rerun through the same machines on which they were tabulated on Election Day.

But the judicial panel rejected his motion, and paper ballots were the only ones that were recounted in most places. In localities with optical scanners, the most widely used among four types of voting methods in the state, officials merely double-checked the math by comparing totals on computerized ballot tapes and poll books recording how many people voted.

Then, state police picked up sealed boxes holding the results from each jurisdiction and ferried them to state election officials in Richmond to certify. Most arrived in cardboard boxes sealed with packing tape, although one local election board sent the results in a large Tupperware container, said Jean Jensen, secretary of the State Board of Elections.

Yes. So voter purges and cooked recounts got corrupt Governor Ultrasound McDonnell his stepping-stone to the Governor's mansion. It's hard not to get cynical about the outcome of this one.

The other recount is for a key seat in the House of Delegates. Democrat Jennifer Boysko trails Republican incumbent Tom Rust by 56 votes. If a recount proves Boysko the winner, it would destroy the Republican supermajority in the House of Delegates.

Hope springs eternal, but in the end the overseer of these recounts will be Ken Cuccinelli in his role as Virginia Attorney General. It's hard to imagine he won't make sure any recount won't actually involve rescanning votes made on electronic machines or disenfranchising voters who would otherwise be eligible to vote. Keep your eye out!

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