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Va. Attorney General Race: Fairfax Co. ballots could swing results

1:36 PM, Nov 9, 2013   |    comments
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FAIRFAX, Va. (WUSA9) -- The Virginia Attorney General race is still unresolved, with all the attention focused on Fairfax County. 

An emergency meeting was called after serious questions arose about absentee ballot totals....totals that didn't make sense. The discrepancies were first noticed by a staffer in Rep. Gerald Connolly's office.

"We think there could be as many as 3,000 ballots that are not accounted for in the 8th Congressional District.... We've got to get to the bottom of this because an election hangs in the balance," said Rep. Connolly.

The staff member knew that since people who request  absentee ballots in the mail, almost always fill them out and send them in.  That dynamic, combined with absentee ballots being cast in person give the them a high return rate, usually up around 90 percent.  The staff member noticed a return rate in the 8th Congressional District with only a 50 percent return rate.  

When the The Fairfax County Electoral Board took a look, they all agreed.  Something was wrong and needed to be investigated.

It comes down to just a few thousand absentee ballots that may not have been counted. Apparently it boils down to human error where an election worker failed to transfer and record a whole tape of votes from one machine at the Mason Government Center new Seven Corners.   

A few thousand votes could swing the Attorney General election between Republican Mark Obenshain and Democrat Mark Herring, who may be only a few hundreds votes apart. 

 

Members of the Fairfax County Electoral Board said they did not suspect foul play and attributed the problem to human error.  

The Board  issued the following statement on Saturday:

Nov. 9, 2013

The Fairfax County Electoral Board released the following statement regarding their investigation of the apparent error in absentee ballot returns in the 8th Congressional District and their continuing canvass of the election results in Fairfax County.

"After a thorough investigation of the situation surrounding the incorrect tabulation of results in the 8th District Central Absentee Precinct, the Electoral Board voted unanimously this morning to accept the corrected results as determined by the canvassers.

The final results of our investigation determined that there were errors in the tabulation that reduced the final vote tally by approximately 3,200 votes. Those errors were corrected in the canvass. The corrected numbers will be provided to the State Board of Elections for reflection on their statewide results website later today.

We want to thank the staff for their hard work in double and triple checking the results to ensure that the errors that became apparent were thoroughly investigated and reconciled.

These results will not be final, however, until the final certification of our results, which we expect will occur on Tuesday, Nov. 12. The deadline for our certification is midnight on Tuesday.

We expect to complete the canvass of all results in Fairfax by Sunday, Nov. 10."

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