Virginia Democrat asks court to reconsider decision that made delegate race a tie

A dramatic race for a seat in Virginia’s House of Delegates took another turn Tuesday as lawyers representing Democratic candidate Shelly Simonds filed a motion asking a trio of circuit court judges to reconsider their decision to allow a controversial ballot to be counted as a vote cast for her Republican opponent David Yancey.

That decision turned the race, which a recount panel had declared a one-vote victory for Simonds, into a tie.

The Virginia State Board of Elections is set to hold a lot draw on Wednesday, where the two candidates’ names would be put into film canisters and then into a bowl. The first name drawn from the bowl will be declared the winner. The Simonds campaign has asked the board to delay the lot draw.

Simonds’ campaign is arguing that there is a 21-day window to request that the court reconsider its decision. They believe that given more time to make their argument, they can convince the judges that the ballot in question should not have been counted.

Simonds said this legal challenge was necessary to protect the integrity of Virginia’s electoral system. Her campaign is not necessarily arguing against the intent of the ballot in question, but instead that it was too late in the process to offer up this challenge.

“My opponent made an end run around the clear rules of the recount,” Simonds said during a conference call with reporters. “That was a violation of Virginia law and it was a violation of the court order, and it was contrary to State Board of Elections guidance.”

The Simonds campaign filed its motion electronically. The court is not open on Tuesday because of the holiday, so the earliest the motion can be accepted is Wednesday, just hours before the draw is scheduled to take place.

Virginia State Board of Elections Chair James Alcorn told CNN that the board is “reviewing the situation.” At this point, no change to the schedule has been made.

The outcome of this race will determine control of the House of Delegates. If Democrats win, there will be a 50-50 split in the House, meaning a power-sharing agreement will be necessary. It would be the first time in more than two decades that Republicans did not control that branch of Virginia’s government.

This story has been updated with comments from the chair of the Virginia State Board of Elections.

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