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Provisional Ballots Could Decide Race For Virginia Attorney General

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Mark Herring, left, is the Democratic candidate for the attorney general's office, opposed by Mark Obenshain, a Republican, at right.
Mark Herring, left, is the Democratic candidate for the attorney general's office, opposed by Mark Obenshain, a Republican, at right.

In Virginia, the race for attorney general is still undecided — and probably headed for a recount.

On Tuesday night, it looked like Republican Mark Obenshain was in the lead. By Wednesday morning, Democrat Mark Herring had more votes. Then it switched back again. At this point, fewer than eight hundred votes — of the two million cast — separate the candidates.

All of the regular and absentee ballots have been counted. But election officials say more than 3,000 provisional ballots have been cast. Those are the votes cast by people who showed up to vote on Election Day but whose names were not on the list of registered voters at that precinct or requested an absentee ballot and did not return it.

"Unless there's just a serious error that nobody has uncovered yet, probably whoever is ahead by one hundred or two hundred votes by next Tuesday, it's probably not going to change," says State Senate Democratic leader Dick Saslaw.

Provisional ballots tend to be votes for Democrats, though, which means that Obenshain could lose that 777-vote margin of victory after some of those 3,000 ballots are certified over the weekend.

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