Newport News Va. House of Delegates recount now a tie after contested vote changed to Republican candidate

Posted at 10:41 AM, Dec 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-20 19:03:26-05

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - The race for the House of Delegates in District 94 is now tied after a panel of judges ruled a contested ballot was meant for David Yancey.

Heading into Wednesday's hearing to certify the results, Shelly Simonds had a one vote lead, but a Republican election official wrote a letter, saying he felt one ballot that wasn't counted was meant for Yancey.

The ballot shows the voter filled in the bubble for both Yancey and Simonds, but there was a line through the bubble for Simonds. The ballot wasn't counted on Tuesday due to the confusion over the voter's intention.

During the hearing, Republican lawyers argued the line through Simonds' bubble was meant to cross off her name and vote for Yancey. The person voted for Republicans in other state elections. They also said the election official is inexperienced and didn't speak up enough to stop the recount process.

Democratic lawyers argued proper procedure wasn't followed and it was too late to make such a claim.

After about two hours, the panel of judges awarded the vote to Yancey, tying the race at 11,608 to 11,608.

"It's an exciting time in Virginia to be sure," Yancey said after the hearing. "The ruling today I think makes certain that every vote that was cast in this historic election was counted."

Simonds couldn't be reached for comment. “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," House Democratic Attorney Marc Elias said in a statement.

The recount Tuesday had Simonds winning by one vote. This was substantial because with her win the Virginia House of Delegates would be at a 50/50 political party split.

Simonds formally requested a recount in the 94th district after the results had her losing by 10 votes in the November 7 election.

Copy of the ballot in question