A recount of the votes in the Virginia attorney general’s race will begin Dec. 16, but a number of jurisdictions, including Alexandria, are facing hand recounts thanks to voting machines considered outdated by the state’s electoral board. Only 165 votes of more than 2.2 million cast separate Democrat Mark R. Herring and Republican Mark D. Obenshain — a 0.007 percent difference that amounts to the closest finish to a race in Virginia history. A three-judge recount court in Richmond on Wednesday announced the process would begin Dec. 17 and 18 for a majority of the state’s voting districts, though Fairfax County, the state’s largest district, was given the go-ahead to begin its recount a day earlier, on Dec. 16. Donald Palmer, secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections, said officials would prefer the ballots be tabulated by optical scanners. In some cases, though, jurisdictions use machines that can’t isolate just one of the races that appeared on the ballot — in this case, the attorney general’s race.
Mr. Palmer voiced concern that some voting machines were not able to separate out “overvotes,” when a voter marks the ballot in a way that appears to show more than one vote for a particular race, and “undervotes,” when a voter did not appear to have made a choice in all the races on the ballot.
The undervotes will be important, as officials will be trying to visually inspect whether any voters signaled their intention to choose a candidate in a way a machine did not register.
“If it cannot be programmed to do that for some reason, they have to be hand counted. Technology and time and the [state] code has passed by older equipment. We would like our equipment to all meet requirements of the code and be up to date.”