Democratic state Sen. Mark R. Herring took the lead in the extraordinarily tight Virginia attorney general race Monday evening, after he picked up more than 100 previously uncounted votes in Richmond. Herring had started the day trailing his Republican opponent, state Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (Harrisonburg), by a mere 17 votes out of 2.2 million cast. But as jurisdictions across the state continued to scrub their vote counts, the State Board of Elections showed Herring with a 117-vote lead late Monday. Lawyers from both parties have descended on elections offices in Fairfax County and Richmond. Meanwhile, the campaigns said they were cautiously optimistic but were bracing for a long, drawn-out battle, which appears almost certainly headed to a recount and could seesaw again. “We’re always excited to see the movement go to our favor, and we’re just going to make sure over the next few weeks and however long this plays out that every single vote counts,” said Ashley Bauman, press secretary for the Democratic Party of Virginia. “Because I think in the end, we feel confident that our candidate will be on the winning side.”
The razor-thin margin between the two candidates, a small fraction of 1 percent on Monday, has brought new urgency to the normally mundane process of accounting for all votes cast in the statewide elections.
In Richmond, city election officials found more than 200 votes in the attorney general’s race that had gone uncounted on election night, most of them from a single voting machine.
Herring (Loudoun) took the bulk of those votes, which also included a handful of previously overlooked paper ballots, netting a 132-vote boost to his side.
But an attorney for Obenshain’s campaign pressed the board at the end of its two-hour meeting to provide data from the electronic poll books used to check in voters when they arrived at voting places — a move that officials said would require a court order.