The head of the Virginia Department of Elections wrote recently that he supports an “appropriate remedy” by a federal court for the disputed 28th District House of Delegates election in Fredericksburg and Stafford County. Elections Commissioner Edgardo Cortés could get his wish. U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis this week set a date of Jan. 5—just five days before the General Assembly convenes—for a hearing on the House Democratic Caucus’ lawsuit requesting a new election for the seat, which could determine control of Richmond’s lower chamber. Democrats had requested the hearing on or before Dec. 22, but the judge set it later to “accommodate the court’s schedule.”
Republican Del.-elect Bob Thomas defeated Democrat Joshua Cole by 82 votes for the seat, but the election has been tainted by revelations that at least 147 voters in the Fredericksburg area received ballots for the wrong House race. The 28th District outcome is critical in determining whether the GOP maintains its 51–49 advantage in the House, which would give it control over committees and legislation for the next two years.
“The errors currently identified … are of great concern to the Department of Elections,” Cortés, who was appointed by Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, wrote in federal court papers dated Dec. 6 and filed this week. “As the Department has no mechanism to provide a remedy to these voters, the Department supports the court providing an appropriate remedy.”
He did not say what he thought that appropriate remedy might be.