The unofficial results of two House of Delegates races in Hampton Roads show Democrats falling within the range of margin to request a recount.
RICHMOND—Err, let’s backtrack a bit. Yes, Speaker of the House of Delegates Eileen Filler-Corn did concede control of the lower House on Nov. 5. (Democrats held a 55-45 majority for the past two years.) But the unofficial results of two delegate races appear to fall within the recount range. So what happens next?
Well, first, let’s look at the legality of a recount. The Virginia Department of Elections states that there are no automatic recounts in the commonwealth.
“Only an apparent losing candidate can ask for a recount, and only if the difference between the apparent winning candidate and that apparent losing candidate is not more than 1% of the total votes cast for those two candidates,” the department said.
The margins in the races for House Districts 85 and 91 are both under 0.5%. Currently, Democrat Del. Martha M. Mugler of Hampton trails A.C. Cordoza by 94 votes, while Del. Alex Askew of Virginia Beach, also a Democrat, is behind Karen Greenhalgh by 127 votes.
Mugler originally announced her concession on Nov. 5 after the final votes were counted, but she went back on that two days later, citing a reporting error discovered after her perceived loss.
“On Friday night, we were made aware of an error that occurred while reporting vote counts in House District 91,” Mugler said in a Facebook post on Nov. 8. “In light of this news and the significant shift we have seen in the count since Tuesday night, we think it wise to do our due diligence to make sure every vote is fairly and accurately counted. We will allow the process the full time and effort it takes to ensure accuracy.”
Also recognizing how tight his race is, Askew tweeted on Tuesday: “We will provide additional updates this week as the situation develops.”
Under state law, a candidate cannot request a recount until the results are officially certified by the state Board of Elections. The board is scheduled to meet Nov. 15 to certify the results. Once that happens, Mugler and Askew will have up to 10 days to file a petition in court requesting a recount. A “recount court” of three judges would then oversee the process and certify the candidate with the most votes as the winner after all of the ballots are counted again.
In 2017, when partisan control of the House came down to a pivotal Hampton Roads seat, the recount was not held until late December.
If the two incumbents ultimately win their elections, both have promised to continue the progress they’ve made in the Democrat-controlled House over the past two years. Askew has promised to continue fighting for affordable health care for people with pre-existing conditions, raises for teachers, and more funding to protect Virginia Beach homes from flooding. Mugler, meanwhile, plans to continue her work to rebuilding Virginia’s economy after she supported the Rebuild Virginia program that helped small businesses get back on track, secured funding for job training and technical education, and established the Office of Offshore Winds, which created clean energy jobs in Hampton Roads.
In Virginia, political race concessions are not legally binding. If a candidate wins the recount—even after they conceded—they will still gain the seat.
Amie Knowles reports for The Dogwood. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.