Republican Mark Obenshain officially requested a recount in the razor-thin Virginia Attorney General race this morning, starting a process that will leave a cloud of uncertainty hanging over this race in the weeks to come.
Obenshain trails Democrat Mark Herring by 165 votes out of 2.2 million cast, according to election results certified by the state Monday.
However, the recount is not expected to begin until mid-December, and would last between one and three days, the Obenshian campaign said today.
“Our approach to this process is not to seek out areas that would favor us,” said Stephen C. Piepgrass, one of Obenshain’s legal representatives. “We’re not cherry picking votes in this process.”
After leading in the early days after the Nov. 5 election, the Obenshain camp is hoping that a recount could produce enough changes to the results that it would swing the results back in their favor.
According to the Obenshain campaign, in the four statewide elections in the U.S. after 2000 that were decided by fewer than 300 votes, three of those four were overturned in a recount.
“It is within Senator Obenshain’s right to pursue electoral victory to an ultimate conclusion beyond the original count, canvass and certification,” Herring said in a statement on Tuesday. “His tactics, however, will not impede our efforts to build the finest team to serve all Virginians in the Office of Attorney General or prepare for the 2014 legislative session.”
In a statewide recount, a three-person “recount court” headed by the Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Virginia will convene to oversee and establish the rules of the process.
Every ballot cast in the state will be recounted.
The campaign cited one analyst’s estimate that there are between 25,000 and 50,000 “under votes” that will also receive additional scrutiny in this process. “Under votes” are ballots where a voter did not select a candidate for all offices on the ballot either because they left it blank or the machine didn’t register their selection: for example, a voter may have selected a candidate for governor, but not lieutenant governor.
Absentee ballots and provisional ballots will also be counted by hand. And any disputes will be resolved by the recount court in Richmond.