Democrats try to steal Virginia House election back, but judge isn’t having it

Democrats in Virginia are trying their best to swipe an election somewhere, somehow, in order to gain control of the state’s House of Delegates, but so far they’re coming up empty.

The Democratic “blue wave” in Virginia that swept the governorship and a significant chunk of the GOP’s advantage in the Virginia House of Delegates has come to a screeching halt with Republicans holding on to a slim 51-49 majority thanks to both a lottery-style drawing won by the Republican incumbent in one district’s tied election and now a Friday ruling by a federal judge rejecting Democratic requests for a new election in another district.

 

(Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Citing “ballot mistakes,” according to an AP report, including 147 voters having received the wrong ballot, Democrats had hoped to force a new election in the state’s 28th district, but U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III ruled on Friday that “garden variety irregularities” in voting do not necessarily merit federal court intervention in state elections.

In the race, Democrat Joshua Cole lost to Republican Bob Thomas by a mere 73 votes.

Ellis ruled that a few innocent errors present “no claim of a great claim of a conspiracy to dilute these votes or do anything nefarious” in a district where over 20,000 people voted.

In other words, a Democratic sore loser doesn’t get to contest an election simply because the vote was close.

“An election has got to have a beginning and an end,” said Michael Matheson, an attorney for local election officials who believe they acted in good faith and there was no need for a special election.

However, instead of entirely dismissing the case, Ellis rejected a preliminary injunction request that would have reportedly ordered a new election. If more evidence presents itself, the judge could still order a special election, but “it’s going to take much more than I’ve seen” thus far, the judge said.

Ellis has been reluctant for federal courts to intervene in state elections before, having rejected a temporary restraining order barring state elections officials from certifying the GOP winner just last month.

The 66-34 majority Republicans enjoyed in the House of Delegates before the election may have shrunk to the lowest possible threshold to maintain a majority, but it looks like they’re holding the line there, which will be a nice check on the newly elected Democratic governor.

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Scott Morefield

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