Race for Virginia Attorney General remains too close to call

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November 6, 2013

Mark Obenshain
Mark Herring

By Greg Janetka

RICHMOND, Virginia: We all knew it was going to be close, we just didn't know how close. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, unofficial results from the Virginia State Board of Elections show Mark Obenshain (R) leading Mark Herring (D) in the race for Attorney General by just 219 votes out of nearly 2.2 million cast.[1] Under state election law, the trailing candidate can request a recount if the margin of victory is less than 1 percent.[2]

Before the night was over, however, some Republicans had already claimed victory. In an email sent at 11:30 p.m. last night, Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins stated, “Let me be the first to congratulate Attorney General-elect Mark Obenshain on his win tonight! This race was hard fought, but in the end Virginians decided that they wanted Mark Obenshain to be the man to continue fighting to protect their families.”[3]

In a statement this morning, Obenshain said "Elections like this are a reminder of the importance of participating in the Democratic process. We’re going to wait until the State Board of Elections finishes its tabulations, and make any further decisions at that time."[4]

Recount: Virginia Attorney General General Election, 2013
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngMark Herring (MOV post-recount +907) 50% 1,105,045
     Republican Mark Obenshain 50% 1,104,138
Total Votes 2,209,183
Election Results Virginia State Board of Elections.
Virginia Attorney General General Election, 2013
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngMark Herring (MOV pre-recount +165) 49.9% 1,103,777
     Republican Mark Obenshain 49.9% 1,103,612
     N/A Write-In 0.2% 4,892
Total Votes 2,212,281
Election Results via Virginia State Board of Elections.

A recount in race for Attorney General is not without recent precedent - in 2005 now-Gov. Bob McDonnell ran for the office against Creigh Deeds. The first result showed McDonnell with a victory of 323 votes, out of over 1.9 million votes cast. Deeds went on to file for a recount, which began on December 20, 2005. After preliminary figures revealed 37 additional votes for McDonnell, Deeds conceded, giving McDonnell a 360 vote margin of victory.[5]

In the event of a recount, elections officials double-check and re-add totals from voting machine records. During the 2005 recount, the returns from nine precincts were also examined by hand.[4] The recount cannot take place until after the vote is certified by the Board of Elections. Once that occurs, the apparent losing candidate has ten calendar days to file a recount petition with the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond.

The recount court, which determines the procedures of the recount, consists of the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court where the recount petition was filed and two other judges appointed by the Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Virginia. The court then appoints recount officials to represent the respective parties to the recount. Once all the votes cast are recounted, the court certifies the candidate with the most votes as the winner.[6]

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