Va. GOP threatens lawsuit over delayed election certification

WASHINGTON — Virginia’s House Republicans are threatening a lawsuit to force the State Board of Elections to certify the final results from the Nov. 7 elections that would give Republicans a 51-49 majority in the chamber.

Del. Kirk Cox, who Republicans expect to install as the new speaker of the House in January, said in a statement that the state board does not have the right to hold up certification of the 28th and 88th District races.

“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,” Cox said.

Attorneys for Cox and Bob Thomas — the Republican candidate who leads in the 28th District race according to unofficial results — sent the state board a letter Tuesday threatening a lawsuit if the results were held up beyond Wednesday morning.

“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,” Cox said in a statement.

On Monday, the board delayed certifying the vote until at least Wednesday in the hopes of getting more answers about at least 83 Fredericksburg voters who were assigned to the wrong House district.

People associated with Democratic campaigns in Stafford County and Fredericksburg have suggested there could be even more voters who were assigned to the wrong House district.

Registrars outside of Fredericksburg told WTOP there is no reason to believe that voters elsewhere in the state were similarly assigned to the wrong House district.

But State Board of Elections Vice Chair Clara Belle Wheeler urged officials statewide to double check their district lines to ensure that everyone in the state received ballots for the correct races as described by Virginia code.

Wheeler warned though that the board’s responsibility at this point is mainly to certify the results submitted by the local electoral boards, who run elections.

Although the State Board of Elections had said delaying certification could also allow for lawsuits to be filed and heard before Wednesday morning’s meeting, none has been filed.

The board must certify results before candidates who lost by less than 1 percent of the votes cast could request recounts.

Democrats expect to request recounts in three races where the margins are 10 votes, 82 votes and 106 votes. A change in the outcome of any one of those seats would flip the balance of power in the House of Delegates.

In a separate process, losing candidates can file a “contest” that would be heard by the House of Delegates. That could lead to one candidate or the other being declared the winner or a rerun of the election.

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up