Coin flip could decide dramatic Virginia House race

Geneva Matthews
December 22, 2017

But after a challenge by Yancey on Wednesday ― around a contested ballot that had previously been uncounted ― a three-judge panel ruled that the ballot would count for the Republican delegate, meaning the race was now down to a tie. But on a local level, they occur fairly often, since the chances of a tie go up when fewer votes are cast. Republicans had even congratulated Ms. Simonds and pledged to share power in bipartisan fashion.

Democratic candidate Shelly Simonds was initially found to be the victor by a single vote - 11,608 to 11,607 - of the race for the 94th District of the House of Delegates.

There is a saying in America that "every vote counts".

Now, the fate of the House comes down to chance: State law says that in the case of a tie, the victor is chosen "by lot", meaning Republican control of Virginia's House of Delegates will essentially come down to a coin toss. At the end of the recount, Simonds appeared to have a one-vote lead over Yancey, creating a 50-50 split in the House. His lawyer said that was the first time in Virginia that an election result had been changed in a recount. That would mean both Yancey and Simonds had 11,608 votes each.

"Last night after the recount was completed, our team became aware of a question surrounding an uncounted ballot". After review, the recount court agreed to count the ballot for Delegate Yancey. However, a Democratic official persuaded the Republican official to not count the ballot.

"The court declares there is no victor in this election", said Newport News Circuit Court Judge Bryant L. Sugg. A City Council race in Idaho was decided by a coin toss in November, only to have the results reversed after a recount. At this time, the matter is still with the recount court. In another recent local election, Dick Galbraith won a seat on the City Council in Heyburn, Indiana, after the race was declared a tie, the victor was chosen by lot, and Galbraith demanded an additional recount. A decade ago, CT repealed its coin-toss rule in favor of deciding tied races through the Legislature or by a runoff - in other words, a do-over. "And we won it by one vote". The margin of victory had been one vote-11,608 to 11,607, according to the Associated Press.

"They're going to have to actually draw by lots", Mr. Kays said, with a shade of disbelief.

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