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Virginia Will Draw a Name From a Bowl to Decide House of Delegates Majority, Instead of Examining Digital Images of Paper Ballots

December 23, 2017 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

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A 19th-century practice, instead of using 21st-century technology.

Next Wednesday, the Virginia Board of Elections will literally pull a name out of a bowl to decide who won the apparently tied 94th House of Delegates race, and thus find out if a blue voter wave has broken this decade’s GOP lock on its legislature.

The BOE will place two candidates’ names on paper inside film canisters and a winner will be drawn—a technique right out of 19th-century America.

What they won’t be doing is use accessible public records created by 21st-century technology to verify the 11,608 votes now awarded to the incumbent Republican, David Yancey, and to Democratic challenger Shelly Simonds.

The BOE could examine digitized images of each paper ballot scanned by the Election Night computers that tallied the vote. But astoundingly, it won’t, citing antiquated state laws, which also prevent it from reexamining provisional and absentee ballots that were initially rejected (possibly as incorrectly filled out or invalid registration status).

But the digitized ballot images are there in Newport News’ voting machinery to conduct a verifiable 21st-century recount, said Chris Sautter, an election lawyer specializing in recounts based in nearby Washington.

“If you are an elections junkie as I am, you have to love this,” he said, sarcastically. “I've been involved in some really close elections, including the 4-vote recount margin in the closest U.S. House race in modern times. Last year, I represented a Virginia candidate in a recount that was decided by 3-votes. But I have never been directly involved in an election that was decided by a lot drawing.”

“The counties involved apparently saved ballot images in this race,” Sautter continued. “But Virginia state law requires that they resolve a tie by lot or flip a coin. It is definitely an anarchism—kind of like a …read more


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