Republican Mark Obenshain's razor-thin 17-vote edge over Democrat Mark Herring early Monday turned into 117-vote deficit by evening in Virginia's seesaw attorney general race that remained too close to call, news reports said.
Herring took the lead after he picked up more than 100 previously uncounted votes in Richmond, The Washington Post reported
. There were 2.2 million ballots cast on election day.
Neither Obenshain nor Herring vowed to petition for a recount, but both candidates are keeping their options open pending the certification of the final results by the state elections board Nov. 25, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported
If the margin is less than 1 percent, either candidate can request a recount. If the margin is less than 0.5 percent, the state will pay for the recount.
“We’re going to wait until the State Board of Elections finishes its tabulations and make sure that every legitimate vote is counted,” Obenshain spokesman Paul Logan told the Times-Dispatch.
Herring’s campaign manager, Kevin O’Holleran, told the newspaper as the canvass has progressed since Election Day, “we get an increasingly accurate picture of the results, [and] Mark Herring’s share of the vote has grown steadily and he has now overtaken Senator Obenshain.”
The margin between the two candidates, a small fraction of 1 percent on Monday, appears to make it one of the closest in state history and could come down to the counting of provisional ballots, the Post reported.
The closest election in Virginia in modern times was in 2005, when Republican House of Delegates member Robert McDonnell beat Democratic state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds by just 360 votes in the attorney general’s race.
“Nobody even older than me remembers it ever being this close,” Charles Judd, chairman of the Virginia State Board of Elections, told the Times-Dispatch.
In Richmond, city election officials found more than 200 votes in the attorney general’s race that had gone uncounted on election night, most of them from a single voting machine, the Post reported.
Herring took the bulk of those votes, which also included a handful of previously overlooked paper ballots, netting a 132-vote boost to his side.
Representatives from both campaigns had been vigorously reaching out to those who had voted by provisional ballots, urging them to come to the county government center to lobby for their votes to count, the Post reported.
“I was afraid my phone was going to blow up if I didn’t come,” Antonia Paris, 22, told the Post, saying she'd received calls from each campaign, sometimes several times in less than an hour.
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