Democrats fight to count military, absentee ballots in tight race

Activists are fighting to get scores of military and absentee ballots counted in a razor tight race that could determine control of the state House of Delegates.

STAFFORD, VA (WUSA9) - Activists are fighting to get scores of military and absentee ballots counted in a razor tight race that could determine control of the state House of Delegates.

Republicans and Democrats are fighting over whether the ballots arrived in time. The frustrating thing is that we may never know for sure.

Scores of activists protested outside the Government Center. They suspect 55 military and absentee ballots got to the Electoral Board's post office box before the polls closed last Tuesday and should be counted because no one went to pick them up.

RELATED: In razor close election, military ballots tossed

But the registrar says those ballots did not arrive at his office until the Wednesday after the election and therefore cannot be counted.

The Stafford County Electoral Board just voted to postpone certifying the vote until Tuesday to give it more time to figure it out.

Republican Bob Thomas is just 84 votes ahead of Democrat Joshua Cole in the House of Delegates race.

Gloria Chittum is the Republican member of the Electoral Board.

"I voted we not count them because of the law that says we cannot," said Chittum. 

Cole said troops overseas to defend our right to vote should not be excluded.

"Whether they're for myself or my opponent, the votes need to be counted," said Cole. 

Doug Filler, a Democrat who serves as Chair of the Electoral Board says he's leaving it a judge, hoping the court will order them to count the ballots. Of the veterans who have expressed outrage at the situation, he said, "They are no more outraged then I am."

So maybe you're doing the math and wondering how 55 ballots could decide a race where the Republican, Bob Thomas, is 84 votes ahead. Well, those are not the only votes at issue.

There are also about 50 provisional ballots outstanding. And the Democrats said the registrar stalled and failed to give them the information about those ballots that they were entitled to have.

They now have an extra day to contact the people who cast those ballots under challenge at their polling place.

Thomas, by the way, did not return phone calls or emails on Monday. 

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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