Written by Brandon Jarvis
Attorneys for Virginia House of Delegates Speaker-designee Kirk Cox, the House Republican Caucus, and Delegate-elect Bob Thomas sent a letter to the State Board of Elections Tuesday – claiming they are playing politics by not certifying the results from two close Fredericksburg-area House elections .
“We are counsel to the Virginia House of Delegates Republican Caucus. It is our understanding that the Virginia State Board of Elections chose to delay certification of the abstracts on file for House Districts 28 and 88. It is unclear what basis the Board has for delaying the certification, but a news report suggests the purpose was to allow litigation concerning the election results to proceed before certification. Whatever the basis, declining to certify the results is improper and counter-productive.”
A Democratic attorney named Marc Elias filed a suit in federal court on Tuesday asking the Board to delay certifying results in these two districts. Republicans won both districts by narrow margins, but some voters were handed the wrong ballot for their district.
“These voters were disenfranchised from voting for the delegate who is to represent them,” Elias said in a statement announcing the suit on behalf of three residents of the 28th District who were given ballots for the nearby 88th District. As of now the range of the errors are not clear, but officials said they’ve identified at least 83 voters who were assigned to the wrong district in the state’s system.
The Elections Board was scheduled to meet to certify the results on Wednesday morning, but the Elections officials announced late Tuesday that they were postponing the meeting until next Monday.
A Federal judge in Alexandria threw out the case filed by the Democrat affiliated lawyer late Wednesday.
“We appreciate the court’s immediate attention and unequivocal ruling,” – Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights
“There are no fewer than four cases and 50 years of Virginia legal precedent that make crystal clear the State Board of Elections’ statutory obligation to certify the election results presented to them by local electoral boards,” said Speaker-designee Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights). “The State Board’s responsibilities are ministerial, and we are considering legal action to compel the Board to fulfill its duties should they fail to do so on Wednesday. The letter sent today lays out clearly for the Board its responsibilities and the legal precedent before us. We are once again calling on the Board to do its duty and immediately certify the elections, consistent with the Code.”
On November 20th, the Board certified all of the statewide elections except for the 28th and 88th districts. The Republicans currently hold a 51-49 majority in the House of Delegates – so the outcome of these two elections matters immensely.
Many elections statewide are expected to go through a recount process – but that cannot begin until all of the elections are certified by the board. The letter from the Republicans says the the process to finding out the truth behind the mixup will be sped up after certification.
“The recount process cannot begin, however, until this Board certifies the results in these House Districts. Once a recount commences, both political parties will have access to the poll books and all other relevant information that will help them determine whether there were any irregularities.”
Cox says that they will file a case with the Virginia Supreme Court if the Board does not certify by Monday.