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Virginia Board Certifies 165-Vote Win For Herring, But Recount Expected

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The Virginia State Board of Elections is certified the results of the Nov. 5 election on Monday, making a recount in the tightly contested race for attorney general seems increasingly likely.

Although many people believe the recount has already started, that process has not been initiated. It hasn't even been asked for yet, and Virginia has no automatic recount.

For the last two weeks, election officials have been conducting what they call a CANVAS — essentially a count of all the votes. That ended Monday, when the State Board of Elections certified the election with a razor thin 165-vote margin of victory for Democrat Mark Herring over Republican Mark Obenshain.

But during the certification of the election's results, even board chairman Charles Judd said that a recount might be needed. "I'm concerned about the integrity of the data. I'm concerned about the lack of uniformity because of that," he said.

The canvas featured malfunctioning voting machines and uncounted provisional ballots. Now that that's out of the way, the recount is likely to raise new issues.

"Even though a recount might not be likely to change the outcome at this stage, it can raise issues about making sure that the electoral process works better next time," says Stephen Farnsworth, a professor at University of Mary Washington.

In Alexandria and Charlottesville, for example, machines purchased from Hart InterCivic cannot do a separate recount for attorney general without also recounting the other races on the ballot. They also can't separate ballots in races where no vote has been cast in the attorney general race or where the voter cast a ballot for write-in candidates.

"What the code says in that situation is that if the scanners cannot be reprogramed to read just that one office, then the ballots must be hand counted," explains Arlington registrar Linda Lindberg.

That means a hand count of all paper ballots in Charlottesville and Alexandria if Obenshain calls for a recount. That decision is expected later today.


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