If Virginia’s 2017 gubernatorial race appeared heated, the post-election drama around the state’s House of Delegates race is reaching its boiling point. Virginia’s State Board of Elections certified the results on Nov. 27, despite its inability to confidently verify votes due to anomalies with the ballots. After the board certified the results, candidates in four races filed petitions for recounts in Virginia circuit courts. The outcome in these tight races will determine control of the House of Delegates. Despite the recount petitions, unless the recount is conducted manually, an unacceptable level of risk of error in the count can cast a pall over the outcome. The margin of victory is so close that only a manual recount can truly ascertain the voter’s intent.
The 94th House District in Newport News has a mere 10-vote margin, while two counties in Northern Virginia — Fairfax and Prince William — show the incumbent winning by only 106 votes. In the 28th District, only 82 votes separate the candidates.
In Virginia, voters mark their ballots either by hand or using a ballot-marking touchscreen device. Paper ballots initially counted by hand will be recounted the same way, as will write-in votes and a few other exceptions. All other ballots that are tabulated by optical scanners are retabulated by machine.