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Judges reverse one-vote win that evened Virginia House

By
Daniel Uria
A panel of judges in Virginia reversed a one-vote win that gave Democrats an equal share of the House of Delegates after awarding a questionable ballot to the Republican candidate. File Photo by Ververidis Vasilis/Shutterstock
A panel of judges in Virginia reversed a one-vote win that gave Democrats an equal share of the House of Delegates after awarding a questionable ballot to the Republican candidate. File Photo by Ververidis Vasilis/Shutterstock

Dec. 20 (UPI) -- A three-judge panel in Virginia tossed out a one-vote win in an election that gave Democrats equal representation in the state's House of Delegates for the first time in 17 years.

The panel determined a questionable ballot that contained a mark for both Democrat Shelly Simonds and Republican Delegate David Yancey should count in favor of Yancey because the voter made another mark to strike out Simonds' name and clearly selected every other Republican on the ballot.

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"The court declares there is no winner in this election," Newport News Circuit Court Judge Bryant L. Sugg said.

Election officials conducting the recount that gave Simonds a one-vote victory on Tuesday discarded the ballot, but Republicans argued the vote should count for Yancey.

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The court agreed, leaving the two candidates tied at 11,608 votes each.

State election officials said in the event of a tie the election is usually decided through a lot, such as a coin flip or drawing from a hat.

"In those situations, the electoral board typically draws names out of a hat. I believe one locality uses an old-fashioned, tri-corner hat for these occasions," State Board of Elections Chairman James Alcorn said. "The State Board typically draws names out of a glass bowl when we're picking the order of candidates for the ballot."

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If the loser of the drawing is unratified with the result, he or she can request another recount.

"While it appeared yesterday that Shelly Simonds was elected, it's obvious now that the result will remain unclear for a while longer," House Republican leaders said.

House Democrats, who believed they held an even share of the House for the first time since 2000, called the decision "erroneous."

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"Today's decision by the court was wrong, and Delegate-elect Shelly Simonds should have been certified the winner," Democratic attorney Marc Elias said. "We are currently assessing all legal options before us as we fight for a just result."

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