With control of Virginia House of Delegates at stake, critical race now tied

A circuit court in Virginia gave one vote to the Republican, resulting in a tie.

— -- It could now be decided by draw — the latest twist in a critical and still undecided race in Virginia.

The day after a recount appeared to make Democrat Shelly Simonds the victor in the race, by one vote over Republican David Yancey — and split control of the Virginia House of Delegates, ending GOP control of the chamber after nearly 20 years — a circuit court ruling set the vote as tied.

A three-judge panel in Newport News, Virginia, ruled Wednesday that a previously uncounted vote challenged by Yancey's campaign should be counted as a vote for him, giving the candidates 11,608 votes apiece.

With the race tied, the State Board of Elections apparently will determine "by lot" which candidate will fill the seat, according to state law.

The Virginia Department of Elections said Wednesday that it was still waiting for a final order from the circuit court before proceeding on how to determine a winner.

"We understand that public reports indicate the recount of the 94th House of Delegates election has ended in a tie vote. At this time, the matter is still with the recount court. Once the court has issued a final order, we can better evaluate what next steps are necessary for the State Board of Elections or Department of Elections to take," Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner Edgardo Cortes wrote in a statement provided to ABC News.

Virginia law stipulates, "If two or more persons have an equal number of votes for any county, city, town or district office and a higher number than any other person, the electoral board shall proceed publicly to determine by lot which of the candidates shall be declared elected."

In a statement Wednesday, Yancey said he was "happy" every vote was counted and was going to allow the Board of Elections to manage the process.

"I am happy that every vote in Newport News was counted and that the judges took time to deliberate before rendering a decision. This certainly is a historic election in our commonwealth. It is my understanding that the State Board of Elections will be managing the next action taken in this election," Yancey wrote in a statement provided to ABC News. "In the meantime, I will continue to work on legislation for the 2018 session, as I have been for the past two months."

The Virginia House Democratic Caucus said Wednesday that it disagreed with the court's decision and that it was assessing the available legal options.

"Today's decision by the court was wrong, and Delegate-elect Shelly Simonds should have been certified the winner. We are currently assessing all legal options before us as we fight for a just result," said Mark Elias, an attorney for the Virginia House Democrats. "The Republicans themselves had affirmed that this result was accurate yesterday before changing their minds today. After conceding this seat and their majority, they are now desperately trying to claw both back like a snarling dog that won't let go of a bone."

Democrats in Virginia and across the country celebrated Simonds' apparent victory Tuesday, which comes after Democrats made sweeping gains across the state in last month's elections, including victories in the races for governor and lieutenant governor.

"The power of every vote has never been clearer. Just one vote secured Shelly Simonds' victory and shifted the balance of power in the Virginia House of Delegates, ending a 17-year Republican majority. Just one vote has cleared the way for Democrats in the commonwealth to advance a progressive agenda that puts Virginia families first," Perez said in a statement released Tuesday evening. "I want to congratulate Shelly on her historic win and every volunteer, organizer and Democratic voter who made this possible. Simply put, every vote counts."

In the event of a Simonds victory, a power sharing agreement could be reached that will allow Democrats to pass legislation they want on health care and other issues. Republicans still hold a 21-20 majority in the Virginia state Senate.

Virginia's junior U.S. senator, Tim Kaine, also celebrated Simonds' victory yesterday, tweeting: "EVERY.VOTE.MATTERS."

ABC News' Michael DelMoro contributed to this report

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