Control of Virginia's State House Could Be Decided by a Coin Toss

Control of Virginia's State House Could Be Decided by a Coin Toss

In a race for the Newport News state House of Delegates seat, a recount on Tuesday changed everything.

The left the candidates in a tie with 11,608 votes each.

If Simonds wins the lot (or recount), the result will have the power to reshape Virginia state politics after Democrat Ralph Northam won the governor's race in November.

The House of Delegates race in Virginia's 94th district ended in a tie today (Dec. 20) after a judicial panel re-examined a ballot from Tuesday's recount that had originally ended with Democrat Shelly Simonds being declared the victor by a margin of a single vote.

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"I am happy that every vote in Newport News was counted and that the judges took time to deliberate before rendering a decision. A short straw", is how The Virginian Pilot describes whatever process judges will use to determine who gets the seat - and if Republicans control the entire House of Delegates. Republican incumbent David Yancey held a 10-vote lead after Election Day for Virginia's 94th House District. That would mean both Yancey and Simonds had 11,608 votes each. During the recount, election officials were presented with an overvote.

He said the ballot in question contained a mark for Democrat Shelly Simonds as well as a mark for Republican Del. It also was a textbook lesson, in an age of fights over access to the voting booth, that every ballot matters. "This morning, the Republican official wrote a letter to the recount court explaining that he made the wrong decision yesterday, and that he believes the ballot should count for Delegate Yancey".

"The court declares there is no victor in this election", Judge Bryant Sugg said.

Two more recounts are still scheduled for later this week in House races. At this time, the matter is still with the recount court.

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Willard Hoskins, 78, a Republican-leaning voter in the district, said he had voted for Mr. Yancey, never expecting how close the race would become.

In the case of a tie in a House race, Virginia law says the victor will be chosen by what is known as a coin toss. A decade ago, CT repealed its coin-toss rule in favor of deciding tied races through the Legislature or by a runoff - in other words, a do-over.

That vote handed Democrat Shelly Simonds the seat, giving Democrats 50 seats, and Republicans 50 seats.

"They're going to have to actually draw by lots", Mr. Kays said, with a shade of disbelief.

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