VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A three-judge panel confirmed the final vote in the recount of the House of Delegates race in the 85th District that pitted incumbent Alex Askew (D) against Karen Greenhalgh (R).
Greenhalgh was named the winner with a total of 14,285 votes. Her opponent, Alex Askew, received 14,170 votes. Her win confirms that the Republicans will take control of the General Assembly next year.
Neither candidate was in attendance in court on Friday.
The initial results had Greenhalgh with a lead of 127 votes in a race where more than 28,000 people voted. The margin was within the threshold of .5% to qualify for a state-funded recount.
Jeff Marks, chair of the Board of Elections, said Thursday night that about 37,000 city-wide early votes were still being sorted for those relevant to the 85th District, which includes western portions of the city including Kempsville and the Town Center areas.
Once those relevant ballots were sorted out, they could be recounted. That process began Friday at 7:30 a.m. in a conference room in Building 14 in the Municipal Center.
What happened in a Virginia Beach Circuit Courtroom Friday cemented that Republicans have taken over the House of Delegates.
“To go out and explain each of those mistakes is a waste of everybody’s time,” Co-Chair of the Virginia Beach Electoral Board David Belote told the judges Friday.
The only issue that came up were votes from in-person early voting before the election where nine more people voted that were not in the final votes tabulated in the recount.
Belote added: “There is no way for us to determine precisely the human error, and to try to document the nine we missed… It most likely happened when voters were checking in to vote… The fact that we ran the numbers through three times, and we know the numbers the judges just entered, that they are the final accurate numbers… The total discrepancy that we were really looking at after running the numbers three times, was nine missing votes out of 18,000 cast, that works out to 27,000 of 1%.”
Del. Alex Askew’s attorney Kathryn Yukevich made a motion to explain where those nine votes are. Belote believes there were errors when early voters were checking in to cast votes. For example, someone shows up, but another name is checked or not checked.
Belote responded to that in court: “It’s not for us to determine pricelessly the human error and try to document the nine we missed.”
The motion was granted to explain those votes, but in the end, Yukevich agreed to move on.
“I think that every vote needs to be counted. That was the point of the motion that was the entire process to make sure every vote was counted,” Yukevich told 10 On Your Side outside court.
Neither candidate was in the courtroom, nor did they respond to requests for comment, but we caught up with Greenhalgh’s attorney, Dallin Holt, after the hearing asking what he would like to say on behalf of his client,
“I’m happy for her. She worked hard for this, and I look forward to watching her serve,” Holt said.
The three-judge panel also acknowledged the hard work of election officials who were recounting votes through the night until 6 a.m. Friday morning.
“My daughter was waking up to go to school. She said where are you going? And I still had my suit on, and she said where you are going, and I said no honey I’m just getting home,” Chair of the Virginia Beach Electoral Board Jeff Marks said.
So, Republicans now hold 51 of 100 seats in the House of Delegates, and if they win a recount next week in Hampton where republican A.C. Cordoza holds 94 vote margin over Democrat Incumbent Martha Mugler they will have 52 seats.