Stafford election board declines to count contested absentee ballots

It's taken almost a week since the election, but it now looks almost inevitable that Republicans will win a narrow majority in Virginia's House of Delegates.

STAFFORD, VA (WUSA9) - It's been a week since the election, but it now looks almost certain that Republicans will win a narrow majority in Virginia's House of Delegates.

Republicans are claiming victory in three very close races, including in Stafford County, where Democrats were pushing to count scores of military and absentee ballots that may have come in late.

RELATED: In razor close election, military ballots tossed

Stafford was the last local electoral board to canvas the vote and count provisional ballots. The board rejected a move to count 55 absentee ballots that may have arrived at the county post office box in time, but failed to make it to the Electoral Board offices until Wednesday.

Some of those ballots were likely from troops serving overseas.

The 40 provisional ballots that the Stafford board accepted as legal changed the vote very little. In the close race for House of Delegates District 28, Democrat Joshua Cole picked up two votes, but still remains 82 votes behind Republican Bob Thomas.

A Stafford County Circuit Court judge rejected a petition to give provisional voters three more days to come in and present identification or other documents that might have helped validate their ballots.

RELATED: Democrats fight to count military, absentee ballots in tight race

But of 50 provisional ballots, the electoral board disqualified only ten. One ballot had no voting card inside.

Recounts are all but certain starting next week in the three close races.

Just ten votes separate the winner and the loser in a House of Delegates race in Newport News.

The following statement was released on Tuesday from Virginia House Democratic Caucus attorney Marc Elias:

“We are disappointed with today’s decision of the Stafford County Electoral Board not to count the 55 absentee ballots erroneously excluded from this year’s election results. As a result, we have filed suit on behalf of the Joshua Cole campaign in the Federal Court in Alexandria to demand these lawful voters’ ballots be counted in accordance with the law and U.S. Constitution.” 

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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