Free Lance-Star reporter Chelyen Davis covers Virginia government.
AG’s race still up in the air
Tuesday’s elections aren’t over for some candidates.
The attorney general race remains too close to call, with both candidates expressing confidence that they’ll prevail in the end.
As of Wednesday afternoon, vote counts from the state Board of Elections show Republican Mark Obenshain slightly ahead, with 1,100,130 votes, or 49.9 percent. Democrat Mark Herring has 1,099,377 votes, or 49.88 percent. That’s a difference of 753 votes.
Those totals have been shifting all day as ballot totals from various precincts are reviewed, so expect the final numbers to be somewhat different.
Still, it’s clearly a very close race, and looks likely to go to a recount, which means the results won’t be known for weeks.
Election officials are canvassing votes today, although a state Board of Elections spokeswoman said information on provisional ballots was not yet available. Voters are told to vote using a provisional ballot if they don’t have identification or if there’s some question about whether they’re registered; those provisional ballots are counted later. People who vote provisional ballots because of ID issues have until Friday to show their ID to their local electoral board.
According to the SBE, there are no automatic recounts — the loser will have to request one, but can’t do so until the SBE certifies the votes. That won’t happen until Nov. 25, for all statewide races.
Herring or Obenshain would then have ten days to file a petition for a recount, in Richmond Circuit Court.
Virginia had a recount in the 2005 attorney general race as well, when Republican Bob McDonnell was certified as the winner over Democrat Creigh Deeds by 323 votes.
In the recount, McDonnell ended up with 360 votes when the recount was concluded just before Christmas.
Virginia doesn’t actually re-count each vote — it reviews vote tallies and paper ballots.
Both Obenshain and Herring issued statements today expressing optimism.
Herring campaign manager Kevin O’Holleran said the lead has flipped several times.
“Based on our projections, we are going to win,” he said. “When all of the votes cast are counted, including absentee votes and thousands of provisional ballots, we’re confident Mark Herring will be the next Attorney General of Virginia. We have a responsibility to make sure that that every voter is protected and every vote counts.”
Obenshain’s statement said his campaign will wait until the SBE finishes its count, “and make any further decisions at that time.”