An apparent one-vote Democratic victory in a Newport News-area House of Delegates race turned into a tie Wednesday, creating an unprecedented scenario in which control of the House will be decided by state officials essentially drawing a name out of a hat. Under state law, the State Board of Elections now has to break the tie in the 94th House District through “determination by lot,” the wildest turn yet after a roller-coaster week in Virginia politics. Republican Del. David E. Yancey entered Tuesday’s recount with a 10-vote lead over Democrat Shelly Simonds. At the end of the recount, Simonds appeared to have a one-vote lead over Yancey, which would have created a 50-50 split in the House after Democrats flipped 15 other GOP-held seats in a wave election last month.
Republicans indicated Tuesday evening that they wouldn’t challenge the outcome when it went before a three-judge panel for final approval.
But on Wednesday morning, Yancey’s campaign asked the court to accept a ballot that had been tossed aside. The voter had filled in bubbles for both Yancey and Simonds, but had put a slash through the Simonds bubble, which the court interpreted as intent to vote for Yancey. On the same ballot, the voter had made an X on the filled-in bubble beside the name of Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie. The ballot included clear votes for Republicans in the races for attorney general and lieutenant governor.