A lottery drawing to settle a tied Virginia legislative race that could shift the statehouse balance of power has been indefinitely postponed, state election officials said on Tuesday, after the Democratic candidate mounted a legal fight. The decision to put off the high-stakes lotto, originally scheduled for Wednesday, marks the latest twist in a dramatic election recount that at one point showed Democrat Shelly Simonds beating Republican incumbent David Yancey by a single vote. A victory by Simonds would shift Republicans’ slim control of the 100-member House of Delegates to an even 50-50 split with the Democrats, forcing the two parties into a rare power-sharing arrangement.
A day after Simonds emerged as the victor of a recount, a three-judge panel ruled that a disputed ballot should be counted for Yancey. That decision left the two candidates tied with 11,608 votes each in a district that encompasses the shipping hub of Newport News in southeastern Virginia, setting the stage for the equivalent of a coin toss to pick a final winner.
Simonds asked a state court to reconsider on Tuesday, arguing that the disputed ballot was wrongly included. An image filed in court showed that the ballot had bubbles filled in beside both names, with a slash mark by Simonds’ name. The voter selected Republicans for other offices.
Simonds told reporters that the case had implications not only for her contest but for the integrity of state elections as a whole, saying that without a court ruling in her favor, “recounts would become a never-ending spiral of courtroom challenges.”