Politics

Balance of Entire Virginia State Government Comes Down to This One Confusing Vote Card

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Earlier this week, we reported on an election that, despite the incredible odds, hinged on a single vote. Now a ballot has surfaced that had two candidates’ names marked. Both names had been marked, but one was crossed through. That oddity took the election from the democratic candidate and has made the race officially tied.

The tie puts control of the Virginia House back in question. On Wednesday of next week, the election may be decided by a random drawing.

“In the latest twist in the state’s 94th House District race,” CNN writes, “a three-judge panel in charge of certifying a recount ruled that a ballot had initially been marked for Democrat Shelly Simonds, but the voter then crossed it out and marked it for Republican Del. David Yancey.
Simonds appeared to have defeated her Republican opponent by one vote on Tuesday — a remarkably razor thin margin that would have prevented Republicans from controlling the House, giving Democrats an equal amount of seats.”

The Virginian-Pilot published an image of the ballot. Even though two names are marked, the ballot is obviously a straight party-line vote. All of the other votes were cast for Republicans.

Earlier in the week, Shelly Simonds, the Democrat, edged out the Republican incumbent, David Yancey, 11,608 votes to 11,607, marking the first time the GOP has not been in control of the state’s House. The recount that showed Simonds as the winner and was thought to be completed Tuesday.

According to NBC News, Democrats said there are no challenged ballots, leading them not to anticipate any changes to the count after it is finalized by the court judges. They were wrong.

Additionally, two other recounts are scheduled for this week that could shift the total number of Democrats and Republicans in the Virginia House, as other midterm elections have also recently occurred.

Initially, Yancey appeared to score a 10-vote victory over Simonds in the November election, but the recount showed Simonds actually won the seat.

“Christmas came early today for Virginia Democrats!” said Virginia Democrats chairwoman Susan Swecker in a statement. “Today’s results should strike fear into the heart of every Republican on the ballot next year.” That was Tuesday. Today, though, the Democrats are shaking.

Virginia House Republicans acknowledged Simonds apparent victory in a statement, saying they are ready to create a bipartisan framework to ensure the House operates “efficiently and effectively.”

Prior to the November elections, the GOP held a clear majority with 66 seats while Democrats only had 34. Before Simonds win, Democrats had secured 15 additional seats.

If a 50-50 split remains, it puts the Virginia House in a unique position, as Virginia has no tie-breaking processes in place for the House should any piece of legislation fail to secure 51 votes.

Additionally, a power-sharing arrangement would be required, such as the use of Democratic and Republican co-chairmen and committees made of equal numbers from each party. Speakership duties would also rotate, with a Republican handling the responsibilities one day and a Democrat the next.

In the Virginia Senate, Republicans hold a slim 21-19 majority, and tie-breaking procedures are in place should any legislation result in a 20-20 vote split.