Countdown to recount begins in close AG race

Posted at 7:09 PM, Dec 04, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-04 19:38:05-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- The initial hearing was held in Richmond Circuit Court Wednesday to set the stage for a recount in Virginia's Attorney General race.

Democrat Mark Herring was declared the winner by the State Board of Elections over Republican Mark Obenshain, but  the margin stands at just 165 votes out of 2.2 million cast statewide.

As a part of the recount process in Virginia, Obenshain's campaign has filed suit to request a recount.  Attorney's for both men were in court Wednesday arguing parameters for how the recount will be carried out.

Obenshain's legal counsel argued for access to poll books and other election materials, which they said they have the right to examine as prescribed by Virginia law.  Herring's attorney's countered by saying many of these materials are sealed and cannot be unsealed.

Both parties were also far apart on the reporting of security problems with voting materials since election day and how to choose certain recount officials in each voting precinct.

Circuit Court Judge Beverly Snukals presided over the hearing and will oversee the recount process with two other judges.

As of 1 pm Wednesday, no date was set for the beginning of the recount, although both sides appeared to agree that it should start at some point during the week of December 16.

According to the Virginia Public Access Project, there were more than 700,000 paper ballots cast using optical scan machines.  All of those votes must be recounted, and political experts say that could result in problems for recount officials.