Every. Vote. Counts.

When we last left Virginia politics, Democrats had been elected to many of the key positions like Governor and Attorney General. To the shock of many, they almost grabbed a majority of the legislature too. That state is notoriously gerrymandered in favour of Republicans, so even a nine-point advantage in the popular vote wasn’t expected to earn 50% of all legislative seats. And yet Virginians woke up on November 9th to learn that Democrats held 49 seats and Republicans had been reduced to 51.

Probably. See, at that point five races were incredibly close, demanding recounts and lawsuits to settle them, so those results were likely but not final. As the days ticked by, four three of those five seats were resolved and indeed “likely” became “final.” The fifth fourth?

A Republican seat flipped Democratic in a wild recount Tuesday – with the Democrat winning by a single vote – creating a rare 50-50 tie between the parties in the House of Delegates and refashioning the political landscape in Richmond.

My gut reaction on this was that Democrats had effectively gained a majority, as the Governor could break a tie. But as I read on…

Power sharing in the House of Delegates is an awkward exercise. Committee chairs have to be negotiated as does the person who will serve as Speaker. With the parties split 50-50, there is no mechanism to break ties and any legislation short of 51 votes does not advance. Republicans hold a slight 21-19 edge in the state senate but with a Democratic lieutenant governor to break ties, and a Democratic governor with veto power, Republicans may be forced to advance a more bipartisan agenda.

… it looks like that only covers the state Senate. Ah well, the point remains that Virginia went from being a Republican-controlled state to one where both parties need to cooperate and step across the aisle to get work done. It’s a radical shift, and it was all due to a single person’s ballot.

I hope the 11,608th voter in Virginia’s 94th district is whooping it up tonight. To the larger point, it’s also a dramatic example of why voter suppression must be opposed by all.

Dagnabbit, four of those certainly looked settled. But then that leads me to this.

Voters in the Fredericksburg area filed suit [December 6th] to seek a new election in House District 28. The Virginia House Democratic Caucus fully supports the voters in this suit. This is the only remedy available to voters that were given an incorrect ballot on Election Day. This decision comes after the State Board of Elections admitted that 147 voters were miss-assigned into the wrong House District where the margin is only separated by 82 votes.

Despite admitting to the incorrect ballots the Board of Elections still certified the result, hence the illusion of settlement. But between that lawsuit and any subsequent vote, there’s a teensy chance Democrats could flip the seat and earn a majority in the Virginia House.

Someone buy that 11,608th voter a beer.

This is getting comical. Emphasis mine.

A three- judge panel declined to certify the recount of a key House race today, saying that a questionable ballot should be counted in favor of the Republican and tying a race that Democrats had thought they had won by a single vote.

“The court declares there is no winner in this election,” said Newport News Circuit Court Judge Bryant L. Sugg, after the judges deliberated for more than two hours. He said the ballot in question, which was deemed unacceptable during the five-hour recount on Tuesday, contained a mark for Democrat Shelly Simonds as well as a mark for Republican Del. David Yancey but that the mark for Simonds had also been struck out.

Election officials presiding at the recount on Tuesday had not counted that ballot. But Republicans challenged the ballot in court, saying the voter intended to vote for Yancey and the ballot should be counted for the Republican.

I guess I’m both right and wrong? I’ll take that.