Judge denies Democrats request for new election in close Va. race

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA - A judge said the problems in the troubled election for delegate in Fredericksburg and Stafford County appeared to be "garden variety" electoral mistakes, not "broad-unfairness" that would allow a federal court to intervene in a state contest.

Judge T.S. Ellis denied a request by Democrats and voters who were given the wrong ballots to decertify the Republican winner and order a new election.

"I could order a new election," said Ellis. "But it's going to take much more than I've seen to date.

Two of the plaintiffs, Kenneth and D.D. Lecky, said they were disappointed, but still evaluating their next move. The lawsuit continues, despite the judge's denial of a preliminary injunction.

The Leckys live in House District 28, but they were given ballots for House District 88. They complained to elections officials at their precinct on election day and pointed to a map that showed they lived in 28. But instead of giving them provisional ballots to vote in 28, the elections officials just took down the map.

Democrat Joshua Cole lost to Republican Bob Thomas by 73 votes. A post election analysis by state officials determined that some 147 people voted in the wrong district. 

The General Assembly draws districts by census tract, and then local registrars have to figure out what addresses fit within those boundaries. Mistakes happen, but the Stafford registrar, at least, is promising to go back and fix them before the next election.

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This is one of two races for the House of Delegates that the Democrats may continue to challenge in the courts. Republicans currently hold a razor-thin 51 to 49 majority. The legislative session starts Wednesday, and whichever party controls the House then will decide which members will serve as Speaker and as committee chairs.

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