Democratic incumbents to seek recounts in two Virginia House races

Virginia Elections

House speaker Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, at rostrum, listen as House majority leader, Del. Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, on monitor, speaks in an empty Virginia House of Delegates chamber during a Zoom Legislative session at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia certified results from the Nov. 2 election on Monday but the battle for control of the House of Delegates will continue after two Democratic incumbents announced they would seek recounts in their races.

Dels. Alex Askew (D-Virginia Beach) and Martha Mugler (D-Hampton) both trail their Republican challengers by less than 0.5%, margins that ensure the state will pay for the recounts.

As it currently stands, Republicans have a 52-48 majority in the Virginia House. If the results flip, Democrats will split the chamber 50-50.

“Voting is a privilege, and we must honor every person who came out and exercised one of our most fundamental rights by ensuring that each vote is properly accounted for,” Askew said in a statement.

Republican Karen Greenhalgh leads Askew by 127 votes (14,270 to 14,143) and Republican A.C. Cordoza is ahead of Mugler by just 94 votes (13,741 to 13,647), according to the Virginia Department of Elections.

House Republicans have been bullish about the results of both races, reiterating multiple times since the election that they are confident they will maintain the razor-thin leads. While it appeared likely both races were headed towards recounts, both parties have already selected their leadership in the chamber.

“In light of the errors and changes in reporting of ballots, we are requesting a recount in order to exercise all possible due diligence,” Mugler said in her own statement. “I trust the process and will rely on the methods put in place to uphold fair elections in the Commonwealth.”

There are no automatic recounts in Virginia but if the difference in a race is 1% or under, the losing candidate can petition the courts for a recount. If the race has a margin over 0.5%, the losing candidate pays for the recount. The state pays for the recount when the difference is below 0.5%.

The chief judge of the circuit court where the recount petition is filed will alert the chief justice of the Virginia Supreme Court of the request. The justice will then appoint two other judges to serve with the chief judge of the circuit court on the recount court.

The recount court determines the plan of action during the recount, the information that each party will have access to “and for which candidate, if any, a challenged ballot should be counted.”

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