A federal judge on Friday rejected a request for a new election that might have forced a 50-50 split in Virginia’s House of Delegates, calling ballot mistakes cited by Democrats a “garden-variety” problem that doesn’t merit federal intervention. Democrats had hoped a new election in the 28th District would provide an opportunity for an even split in the chamber, which is now on track to be controlled by a 51-49 GOP majority. Democrats cited state election officials who said 147 voters received the wrong ballot before Republican Bob Thomas beat Democrat Joshua Cole by only 73 votes. It is the second defeat in as many days for Democrats. On Thursday, election officials broke a tie vote in another House district by drawing names from a bowl, and picking the Republican.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said Friday that legal precedent bars federal courts from intervening in state elections on the basis of “garden-variety irregularities.” He ruled that the misassignment of a few hundred voters in a district where more than 20,000 people cast ballots does not rise to a level requiring federal intervention.
Ellis also said the errors appear to be innocent, with “no claim of a great claim of a conspiracy to dilute these votes or do anything nefarious.”