Virginia House race: Judges deny Democrat's request to reverse tie

By Daniel Uria  |  Jan. 3, 2018 at 5:20 PM
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Jan. 3 (UPI) -- A Virginia recount court Wednesday denied Democrat Shelly Simonds' request to reverse a ruling that led to a tie in the House of Delegates race.

As a result of the court's decision the State Board of Elections will settle the tie by drawing a name from a container in Richmond on Thursday, more than three weeks after a recount declared Simonds the winner of the race by a single vote.

The result of the drawing will affect the balance of the House of Delegates, which Republicans have held a majority of since 2000.

The initial drawing was postponed after Simonds contested that a ballot can only be challenged during a recount, according to recount rules.

The three judges asserted they followed the rules properly by ruling a ballot that had both candidates' names filled in -- but featured a strike through Simonds' name -- as a vote for her opponent, Republican incumbent David Yancey.

The judges argued the language in the law is "plain and unambiguous," adding there isn't any language that says this written statement can only be submitted at a certain time

After learning of the court's decision, Simonds wrote a letter to Yancey asking to make a pact that neither candidate request a recount, contest the election or pursue further litigation if they lose the draw.

"I have no interest in prolonging this matter if it will deny the 94th District citizens representation at the beginning of session," Simonds wrote.

Simonds proposed pact also requests both candidates insist the winner of the draw be seated on Jan. 10, the first day of the 2018 General Assembly session.

Yancey said he wouldn't agree to the pact, essentially guaranteeing Republicans a House majority when the session begins regardless of who wins the drawing.

"I am not going to deny myself or the people of the 94th district due process simply because of the unnecessary delays that have got us to this point," Yancey said.

If neither candidate is seated the House will be split 50-49 between Republicans and Democrats as they vote to elect a new speaker and pass rules governing committees, which determine whether bills reach the House floor.

The drawing is scheduled to take place at 11 a.m. on Thursday, however the board will monitor the weather after a blizzard warning was issued and potential snowfall of 2 to 4 inches were predicted for the area.

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