Judge denies request to block final Va. election certification

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A federal judge on Wednesday denied a request from Democratic voters in Fredericksburg, Virginia, to block the final certification of house of delegates results that would give Republicans control of the body — even as state officials revealed at least 384 registered voters were assigned to the wrong House district.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III suggested holding a new election could turn out to be the best remedy in the 28th and 88th House Districts, but that it would be up to the General Assembly or a court that has had more time to hold full hearings in the case to make that decision based on final results of an investigation.

At this point it is not clear how many of the voters cast ballots or whether it could have changed the outcome of particularly the 28th District race to replace retiring House Speaker Bill Howell.

In the results that an attorney for the State Board of Elections said the board is legally required to certify at a meeting Monday no matter their concern, Republican Bob Thomas leads Democrat Joshua Cole by 82 votes.

After the election is certified, Cole is entitled to request a recount due to the small margin. A recount only counts ballots that were actually cast.

Separately, Cole could file a “contest” of the election in the house of delegates. After an investigation and other legal filings, the House would either declare one candidate or the other the winner or order a new election. The process, as spelled out in Virginia law, can take weeks or months.

“We are in uncharted territory with respect to a contest before the General Assembly,” Assistant Attorney General Heather Hays Lockerman said.

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