Almost a week has passed since the general election. One of the more interesting set of races was in Virginia, in which the Governor and Lieutenant Governor positions were won by Democrats, and the Attorney General race was narrowly in favor of the Republican Mark Obenshain over Democrat Mark Herring. Since last Tuesday, precincts across the state have been correcting their counts. As of this morning, Obenshain was up by a mere 17 votes out of some 2.2 million votes tallied.
Over the past few days, discrepancies, including a missing tally from an entire machine, have come to light in the Democratic stronghold of Richmond. A couple of hours ago, a hearing was held by the Richmond electoral board to clarify those discrepant or suspicious results in eight precincts. The rather dramatic review of those eight precincts netted Herring a total of 132 votes, giving the Democrat a lead of 115 votes.
The Republicans immediately demanded a review of ten more precincts. The request was granted, and those are being examined as I write this post. But, the first five precincts examined so far have resulted in exactly zero changes—they keep their election day tallies. I note that the Richmond electoral board is composed of two Republicans and one Democrat, so it will be hard for Republicans to concoct rational conspiracy theories around the hearings (as if “rational” has ever been a criterion!).
Of course we are still a long way from having this resolved. The loser will almost certainly request a recount, although N in Seattle tells me that the Virginia recounts rules are far more restrictive than what we are used to here in Washington. And then there will be the inevitable lawsuit a la the first Gregoire–Rossi race in Washington or the Franken–Coleman race in Minnesota.
The other likely set of changes to the vote count will come from about 500 outstanding provisional ballots. Most outstanding provisionals will come from blue-leaning areas—the great majority from Fairfax County, and a handful from Roanoke city. These will be adjudicated through tomorrow afternoon, when the final tallies must be certified. It is always dicey projecting provisional ballots, but we should expect Herring to pick up at least a thin majority of the provisional votes that are accepted. (BTW: there was a flap over the weekend about “rule changes” in who could represent provisional voters. The flap turns out to be pretty much bogus.)
So it looks damn likely that Democrats will have swept the three statewide races in Virginia. Given that the current Virginia Attorney General and failed gubernatorial candidate, Ken Cuccinelli, was openly boasting about being the first AG to sue the federal government over ObamaCare, his gubernatorial loss combined with the loss of the Republican in the AG slot would be a stunning symbolic victory!
This post was written as the Richmond City electoral board was holding its hearing. I was getting my information from a number of Twitter feeds from on-site people. The best feeds, by far, were from Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) and Joe St. George (@JoeStGeorge).
Some background on the issues in Richmond and other issues in the election can be found in (amid the chaff) in the post and comment thread here.