POLITICS: PennAve

Recount on the way for Virginia attorney general race

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Virginia,Steve Doty,Terry McAuliffe,Ken Cuccinelli,Campaigns,PennAve,2013 Virginia Governor Race

A recount in the race for Virginia attorney general will take place within the next three weeks, attorneys for state Sen. Mark Obenshain said Wednesday.

On a conference call with reporters, Obenshain's legal team of Ashley L. Taylor Jr. and Stephen C. Piepgrass said the recount is expected to happen around the middle of December and will only take a few days to produce a final winner.

"You're looking at probably a one-day to three-day overall process to ascertain the results of the recount," Piepgrass said.

Democratic state Sen. Mark Herring won the Nov. 5 election by 165 votes out of 2.2 million cast, making the race for attorney general the closest statewide race in the Commonwealth in modern history. Herring's victory was certified by the Virginia State Board of Elections on Monday, and on the following day Obenshain announced his plans for a recount. Both men are trying to succeed Republican Ken Cuccinelli, who lost his bid for governor to Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

Obenshain's camp officially filed for a recount Wednesday morning in Richmond, where a three-judge panel will oversee the recount process.

On the day of the recount each locality will run the ballots through the voting machines. However, any ballots that are rejected by the machines will then be counted by hand. In addition, absentee and provisional ballots will also be recounted by hand on the day of the recount. Any disputed ballots will be sealed and sent to Richmond for a final decision.

One major difference between the recount for attorney general in 2005 and the recount this year will be the recounting of optical scan ballots and undervotes. Undervotes are ballots that were not counted on election night because they were improperly filled out. For example, if a voter cast a ballot for Mark Obenshain, but left blank a vote for governor and lieutenant governor, then the ballot was not counted. During a recount, those ballots will be counted.

"All of the votes will be run through the optical scan, and all undervotes will be set aside and counted manually," Taylor made clear Wednesday.

Pat Mullins, the chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, said Obenshain was making the right call in asking for a recount.

"Recounting a race this close is simply the prudent thing to do," Mullins said. "Virginians like a quick resolution to our elections. I know I certainly do. But we must take the time to be sure that each and every legitimate vote is counted. Virginians deserve no less."

Herring's victory capped off a clean sweep of statewide offices for Democrats for the first time since 1989.

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