Democrats leads Va. attorney general’s race following ‘voting machine mystery’

Posted at 1:43 PM, Nov 11, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-12 06:58:55-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - The Richmond Electoral Board met Monday to go over votes cast last week in the race for Virginia attorney general.

Republican Senator Mark Obenshain led Democrat Senator Mark Herring by 17 votes on Sunday night. Following Monday's meeting, Herring picked up 135 votes, according to The Democratic Party of Virginia.

So why the sudden pickup in votes?

On election night, poll workers in precinct 501 failed to calculate one voting machine.

Election workers in various other areas also failed to calculate some paper ballots.

When asked by CBS 6 political reporter Joe St George how an entire machine could be left out, Richmond Registrar Kirk Showalter said that workers do in fact get tired.

"Weariness on the election workers-they've been there since 4:30 in the morning," Showalter said.

Showalter said that election officials actually knew of the error last week, but waited until Monday in order to let the process play out.

Showalter reiterated to the press that this is exactly why a canvass is conducted, so election night results are double and triple checked before they are certified.

The irony is that precinct 501 was actually requested for review by Republican lawyers.

"What happened in there was going to happen anyway," Garren Shipley, Communications Director with the Republican Party of Virginia, said.

In total nearly a dozen precincts in Richmond were reviewed.

There was controversy toward the end of the meeting when lawyers for Republican Mark Obenshain demanded to see the poll books.

Election officials said he would have to submit that request in writing and indicated that would most likely be impossible since the poll books are sealed.

"Getting the poll books is important because we have to make sure the ledger is balanced," Shipley said.

As for Democrats, their legal team mostly set back and watched the process play out.

"We are here right now just to make sure every vote is counted-that we have an open and transparent process," Ashley Bauman of the Democratic Party of Virginia said.

Of the 74 provisional ballots cast in last Tuesday's election, Richmond only accepted 20.

Showalter told St. George that is because several voters failed to follow or meet voting requirements.

Local registrars have until Tuesday to submit voting totals to the state. The state will then tabulate and certify results.

Richmond isn't the only city facing controversy over the AG race vote count, Fairfax County fixed a mistake over the weekend that initially left over 3,000 absentee ballots, mostly Democratic, uncounted.

Both campaigns continue to raise money off the close numbers, indicating a potential recount to start at the end of the month.