Names to be drawn next week to determine winner of House of Delegates race in Newport News

Published: Dec. 20, 2017 at 7:35 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 21, 2017 at 9:19 AM EST
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NEWPORT NEWS, VA (WWBT) - The Virginia State Board of Elections will meet next week to decide the winner of the House of Delegates for the Newport News-area 94th district.

The board's chairman made the announcement on his Twitter page on Thursday morning:

Democrats had previously declared victory by just one vote following a recount.

The name of the winning candidate - Republican Del. David Yancey or Democrat Shelly Simonds - will now be literally drawn from a hat or some sort of container by the Virginia Board of Elections. The winner of that race could also potentially determine which party controls the House of Delegates.

Heading into Tuesday's recount, Yancey led Simonds by ten votes. After the recount, and one ballot thrown out, a "win" was declared for Simonds. Control of the Virginia House of Delegates then became split for the second time in history: 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans.

However, Republicans contested that ballot overnight. The matter came before a three-panel judge Wednesday.

"The Republican party is trying to hold on to power," said NBC12 legal analyst Diedre Condit.

Republicans say the contested ballot was clearly marked in favor of Yancey. The court agreed that the ballot should be counted and allowed it to be tabulated. That means the outcome of the race was then declared a tie, with no winner.

The Virginian Pilot has released a photo of the ballot submitted to the court:

Legally, the Board of Elections will now cast lots to determine a winning candidate, likely opting to pull names out of a hat.

"[The judge panel] took their time and they deliberated over it. And the ruling today makes certain that every vote that was cast in this historic election was counted," said Yancey.

The Virginia House Democratic Caucus fired back with a statement from their attorney, Marc Elias:

"Today's decision by the court was wrong, and Delegate-elect Shelly Simonds should have been certified the winner. We are currently assessing all legal options before us as we fight for a just result…. The Republicans themselves had affirmed that this result was accurate yesterday before changing their minds today."

Meantime, Thursday will bring another recount for House District 28 in the Fredericksburg area, where Republican Bob Thomas leads Democrat Joshua Cole by 82 votes. Controversy erupted after a glitch sent some voters in the area casting ballots in the wrong district. However, officials have no way to identify those wrongly-placed ballots, since of course, ballots are anonymous.

"There isn't a legal precedent for how to deal with when voters have been sent to the wrong district," continued Condit.

That matter could likely end up in court, with Democrats hoping for a special election.

The recount of the local House District 68 race in the Richmond area, Democrat Dawn Adams versus Republican Del. Manoli Loupassi, is still being recounted in Richmond Circuit Court. Adams won by over 300 votes. Analysts are not expecting the outcome to change.

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