For the first time since the bulk of votes were tallied in Virginia on Election Night last Tuesday, the Democratic candidate for Attorney General, state Sen. Mark Herring appears to now have taken the lead over Republican state Sen. Mark Obenshain in the razor-thin results of more than 2.2 million votes cast. Herring just barely leap-frogged Obenshain’s totals on Monday afternoon after tallies from a voting machine in the city of Richmond — the results of which had been previously missing from official tallies since Election Night — were added to the running totals. The addition of 190 votes from electronic voting machine #3791, plus a few other votes from seven other precincts re-reviewed by Richmond City’s Electoral Board on Monday, resulted in what now appears to be a 115 vote lead for Herring over Obenshain. While the results posted by State Board of Elections (SBE) do not yet reflect that change in the state tally (showing, instead, a 17 vote lead for Obenshain for now), a number of election experts following and closely documenting the post-election canvassing and correction of vote tallies from across the state have confirmed Herring’s new lead. Those experts have been consistently and accurately ahead of the SBE in reporting results in many cases over the past week.
Ironically, the review of the poll tapes printed out by the tabulation computers from eight different precincts in very-heavily Democratic-leaning Richmond City today, came at the request of the Republican Party. “Richmond City’s GOP-requested recanvass of 8 precincts could not have gone much worse for Obenshain (R),” tweeted Dave Wasserman of the non-partisan Cook Political Report, just after poll tapes from each of the questioned precincts had been publicly reviewed by the Board. Wasserman is one of those “election geeks” who have been following results in the VA AG contest closely. He was among the first to notice that some3,000 absentee ballots from Democratic-leaning Fairfax Countyhad also not been included in the official totals reported to the state following last Tuesday’s election.
After a re-tally of those overlooked Fairfax ballots (said to have been due, in part, to a faulty Diebold optical-scanner on Election Night), Herring would have taken a slim lead over Obenshain, but for another (still-unexplained) computer tally error discovered in heavily-Republican Bedford County on the same day last Friday. The addition of another 500 or so votes for Obenshain there allowed him to maintain a very slim lead until today.
It should be noted that while Richmond City, which adjusted its totals today, leans heavily Democratic, two out of three of the Richmond City Electoral Board members are Republican.