An attorney for Democrat Mark Herring said Monday he expects Herring to retain his slim lead over Republican Mark Obenshain in the race for Virginia attorney general. “I don’t expect a significant change,” said Washington attorney Marc Elias, a veteran of election recounts, during a teleconference with reporters. “I expect the attorney general-elect (Herring) — whether there is a recount or not — will prevail.” The final certification by the State Board of Elections is set for Monday. As of now, Herring has a 164-vote lead over Obenshain. That lead comes after more than 2.2 million Virginia voters cast their ballots in the attorney general’s race on Nov. 5. Elias said there have been only three recent statewide recounts that have changed the result “against the backdrop of hundreds and hundreds.” The attorney describes the recent canvass of votes in Virginia cities and counties as one that “is painstaking to make sure all votes are counted.”
He said Virginia localities use optical scan machines that do not allow a voter to leave a precinct until the vote is counted, and also use electronic machines that look like ATMs. “Those won’t change,” Elias said if a recount is ordered.
Elias comes as a seasoned attorney in election battles. According to the Web site for his Washington law firm, Perkins Cole, Elias was the lead counsel for U.S. Sen. Al Franken in his successful 2008 Minnesota race and recount. Elias succesfully argued Franken’s case before the Minnesota State Supreme Court, stating that the Democrat had received the most votes in the election.
Obenshain, a state senator from Harrisonburg, said last week he is committed to seeing the process through. While he is waiting for next week’s state certification, Obenshain is expected to request a recount if he does not come out the winner when the state board meets.