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Drawing for tied Virginia race postponed; Democrat to fight contested ballot in court

A judge's gavel (Free use/Activedia)
December 28, 2017

Should it count or not?

That’s the burning question in Virginia as a fiercely contested ballot in the state’s legislative race was thrown in the spotlight again. Democratic candidate Shelly Simonds reportedly plans to fight its acceptance in court, which caused a last-minute postponement of a name-drawing contest originally scheduled Wednesday to break the tie.

Earlier this month Simonds found out she won her Virginia House of Delegates seat by one vote, only to find out a day later she actually had tied thanks to a ballot that marked circles next to both her name and Republican candidate David Yancey.

The ballot at first was thrown out, but a panel of judges allowed for it to be counted because Simonds’ circle had a slash through it. This race is particularly important because the winner will decide whether Republicans maintain control of the state House of Delegates.

? Thursday: Coin tosses, names in a hat? Some elections are decided that way

? Wednesday: Race for Virginia House now tied, winner to be randomly selected

? Dec. 19: Shelly Simonds wins race by one vote, leading to Virginia House tie

A lawyer for Simonds told the (Newport News, Va.) Daily Press his firm plans to file a motion Wednesday, asking the court to reverse its decision on the ballot. The motion says the panel made a “clear legal error” in accepting the ballot, a decision Simonds legal team condends doesn’t follow Virginia law.

The motion wasn’t filed Tuesday because the courthouse was closed, the newspaper reported. Lawyer Ezra Reese called the ballot in question an overvote, a ballot with too many bubbles filled in.

Simonds’ lawyer plans to ask the court to suspend its decision and reconsider the ballot again, according to the Daily Press.

The Virginia State Board of Elections postponed the tie-breaking contest set for Wednesday in light of the challenge, the newspaper reported. Names of both candidates had been scheduled to be put inside film canisters then chosen from a clear glass bowl.

© 2017 USA Today

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.