As of late Saturday, just 55 votes separated the Democratic candidate from the Republican in the Virginia Attorney General’s race, according to the State Board of Elections (SBE) website. 55 votes out of more than 2.2 million cast after four days of canvassing, double-checking and processing a number of provisional ballots cast across the state during last Tuesday’s election. The state’s 55 vote spread, however, is still larger than the margin cited by the election geeks who have been following this race on a county-by-county and often precinct-by-precinct (even ballot-by-ballot) level. And they have been consistently and correctly ahead of the SBE-posted numbers. One of them, Virginia political expert and self-identified “vicious campaign insultant,” Ben Tribbett declared just a 15 vote margin earlier Saturday, after the spread had been just several hundred over the last few days. Late tonight, after a few more provisionals were tallied in the City of Richmond, Tribbett adjusted his tally to a 44 vote margin. Another one of those geeks, Dave Wasserman of the non-partisan Cook Political Report, predicted Friday night on Twitter that, after all provisional ballots are added in, “this thing could be single digits.” It looks like he wasn’t kidding.
For what it’s worth, it’s the Republican state Sen. Mark Obenshain currently leading the Democratic state Sen. Mark Herring by either 55 votes or 15 votes or somewhere in between right now. But there still remain between 400 and 500 provisional ballots to be adjudicated and possibly added to the totals in heavily Democratic-leaning Fairfax County as of Saturday night, according to Michael McDonald, a specialist in American elections at George Mason University in Fairfax.
Indeed, it was a surprise edict concerning provisional ballots, as issued by the Republican State Board of Elections, that stopped the Fairfax County Electoral Board dead in their tracks on Saturday before they were able to adjudicate all of the county’s provisionals as previously planned.