Drawing to break tie in 94th District delayed after Simonds challenges ruling

Democrat Shelly Simonds, left, and Republican Del. David E. Yancey, right.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Election officials have postponed a set tiebreaker in the 94th District House of Delegates race at the request of the Democratic candidate, who announced she’ll file a motion to take the recount case back to court.

Shelly Simonds’ request to hold off on Wednesday’s drawing in Richmond was granted by the State Board of Elections.

Simonds, who lost to Del. David Yancey by 10 votes in November, requested a recount and appeared to win by one vote on Dec. 19.

The next day, an election official appointed by Yancey asked for a controversial ballot to be reconsidered. A three-judge panel reviewed the ballot and ruled it should count for Yancey, which tied the race.

Simonds’ attorneys, who plan to file a motion Wednesday morning, argue the court’s decision to challenge the ballot after the recount is illegal and unfair.

They are asking the court to reverse their decision and declare Simonds the winner.

“I do think it’s really negative for our community to not allow a recount to stand and to go into court to overturn it,” said Simonds. “If we allow the courts to decide all of our elections, I think we are all going to be in trouble.”

Read Simonds’ letter to the Va. Board of Elections

Parker Slaybaugh, a spokesperson for the House Republican Caucus, issued the following statement Tuesday in response to the filing:

Virginia election law lays out clearly the rules of recounts, which are conducted under the supervision of a three-judge Court with final authority over all matters pertaining to the recount. We followed that process and the Court confirmed the results of the election in the 94th District as a tie. We believe the Court acted appropriately and that the integrity of the process is without question. We are reviewing the filing and determining what, if any, response we might file. However, it must be noted that on Thursday, December 21, following the conclusion of the recount in House District 28 but before the three-judge court certified the results, attorneys representing Democrat Joshua Cole submitted a written statement challenging an additional ballot that was not challenged during the recount. The Court agreed to review the ballot. After review, the Court agreed to count the ballot for Cole. This is exactly analogous to our actions in House District 94 and demonstrates unequivocally that the actions of the Court in Newport News were appropriate and equitable.”

The race is pivotal because of its potential effect on the House of Delegates, which has been long-held by the GOP. Currently, Republicans hold a 50-49 majority. A Simonds victory would split the lower house of the General Assembly 50-50. Republicans control the Virginia State Senate, 21-19.

“I have a lot of faith in our judicial process and our judges, and I think think for them on Wednesday things moved really fast,” said Simonds. “We wanted to slow things down and give them a chance to reconsider.”