Draw to decide Newport News Va. House of Delegates election delayed after Democrats file motions to suspend judges’ decision for tie

Posted at 2:28 PM, Dec 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-27 08:19:49-05

RICHMOND, Va. - The State Board of Elections has postponed the drawing to decide the balance of the Virginia House of Delegates, the House confirmed Tuesday.

A random drawing was to be held on December 27, but Democrats filed motions earlier on behalf of candidate Shelly Simonds, who formally requested a recount in the 94th district after the results had her losing by 10 votes in the November 7 election.

The recount 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 is asking the election panel of judges to reverse their tie vote decision in the 94th house seat race and to reconsider on an expedited basis.

Last week, the same panel ruled a single ballot in the recount--originally tossed out--should go to Republican David Yancey, putting the vote at a tie.

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 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.

A spokesperson for the Virginia House Republican Caucus released the following statement in response to the Simonds motion, Tuesday afternoon:

"Virginia election law lays out clearly the rules of recounts, which are conducted under the supervision of a three-judge Court with final authority over all matters pertaining to the recount. We followed that process and the Court confirmed the results of the election in the 94th District as a tie. We believe the Court acted appropriately and that the integrity of the process is without question. We are reviewing the filing and determining what, if any, response we might file.

However, it must be noted that on Thursday, December 21, following the conclusion of the recount in House District 28 but before the three-judge court certified the results, attorneys representing Democrat Joshua Cole submitted a written statement challenging an additional ballot that was not challenged during the recount. The Court agreed to review the ballot. After review, the Court agreed to count the ballot for Cole. This is exactly analogous to our actions in House District 94 and demonstrates unequivocally that the actions of the Court in Newport News were appropriate and equitable."

Virginia State Board of Elections Chairman James Alcorn also released the following statement Tuesday:

"After receiving notice of the pending litigation concerning the HD94 election, we have decided to postpone tomorrow’s planned drawing. While our planned drawing for tomorrow was in full compliance with the Code of Virginia, neutral election administrators should not be choosing election winners - or influencing the next Speaker of the House. Drawing names is an action of last resort. Any substantive concerns regarding the election or recount should be resolved before a random drawing is conducted. This will best serve the voters of HD94 and the rest of the Commonwealth."

Click here to read the full memo.

Letter to State Board for 12/27 Meeting


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