The Virginia State Board of Elections has certified Democrat Mark Herring the winner of Virginia’s attorney general election with a slim 165-vote margin over his opponent, Republican Mark Obenshain.
With more than 2 million votes cast in the election, Herring’s victory of 1,103,777 to 1,103,612 votes represents less than one hundredth of a percent. The results have been uncertain since the Nov. 5 election, after which the two state senators traded the lead for several days. A candidate who loses any election by less than 1 percent of the total votes fast for both candidates is entitled to ask for a recount within ten days of the results being certified, according to the Virginia Board of Elections.
Obenshain’s campaign has not yet demanded a recount, saying they are still reviewing the results. “A decision to request a recount, even in this historically close election, is not one to be made lightly,” said campaign manager Chris Leavitt in a statement released Monday. But he also noted that there have been four statewide elections in the U.S. since 2000 that finished within a 300 vote margin, and that three of those results were reversed in a recount.
Herring posted a statement on his website thanking his supporters that warns “until the GOP accepts the election results, we need to protect every vote,” and encourages them to donate to the Rapid Response Fund.
If there is a recount and Herring emerges as the winner, Democrats will have swept the top three statewide positions on the ballot earlier this month.
The state will pick up the tab for the cost of the recount because the margin between the two candidates is less than half a percent. The whole process could take weeks.
Virginia’s last major recount was in 2005, current Gov. Bob McDonnell, R-Va., beat his Democratic challenger, R. Creigh Deeds, by just 360 votes. During the recount, McDonnell's lead grew by 37 votes and he was ultimately declared the winner six weeks after the election.