Democratic candidate Mark Herring came out of yesterday’s canvasses with a
163-vote 164-vote lead over Republican Mark Obenshain in the race to be the next attorney general of Virginia. All of the localities certified their election results by midnight, with Fairfax County being the last to do so. Yesterday’s canvasses saw Herring’s lead dwindle from 117 votes to 106, with just Fairfax left. The processing of the provisional ballots plus one additional absentee ballot added to Herring’s lead: the count was 160-103.
The next step is the certification by the State Board of Elections. That will come Monday, November 25. With such a slim margin, I’ve no doubt that Obenshain will request a recount.
But even a recount may not be final. Last night, as we were waiting for the results from Fairfax, I noticed an interesting statement from Del. Greg Habeeb, a member of the House Republican leadership. This started it off.
Woah – I had no idea there was a provision that would allow anything beyond a recount. In a subsequent tweet, Del. Habeeb provided the link to the relevant section of the Virginia Code: § 24.2-804. Sure enough, this little-known provision exists – not that I doubted Habeeb – and would allow the General Assembly to override the results of the recount. Previously, I thought that just applied in the event of a tie, as this article points out.
The fact that it has never happened before doesn’t preclude it happening here. And that truly bothers me. Our electorate is polarized enough. This provision should not exist. I’d like to see every member of the General Assembly disavow it and work towards its removal. No way should any group be allowed to overrule the voters.