The image “http://www.votetrustusa.org/images/votetrust-small2.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

 

The nation's clearinghouse for election audit information!
State and Local Election Integrity Organizations
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Maryland
Michigan
Minnesota
Missouri
Montana
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
Ohio
Oregon
Pennsylvania
South Carolina
Tennessee
Texas
Vermont
Virginia
Wisconsin
VoteTrustUSA does not speak on behalf of any of the listed organizations.
: mosShowVIMenu( $params ); break; } ?>

   
Around the States

Virginia: How Close is Close Enough? PDF  | Print |  Email
By Jeremy Epstein   
November 16, 2007

This article was posted at Jeremy Epstein's Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

 

Last week's elections left (at least) two very close elections in Virginia, based on the unofficial counts. In Spotsylvania County, the Clerk of the Court race, the two leading contenders are separated by 63 votes, with 7,420 (38.46%) for Christy Jett vs. 7,357 (38.13%) for Paul Metzger out of a total of 19,295 votes cast. (Full details here.) In Fairfax County, out of 37,185 votes cast for the 37th State Senate seat, Ken Cuccinelli has 18,602 votes (50.02%) for a lead of 92 votes over Janet Oleszek (18,510 votes or 49.77%). (Full details here; Oleszek has announced she's seeking a recount.

What does this mean? Both Spotsylvania and Fairfax counties use paperless Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting systems, meaning that the only record of the votes is what's in memory cards on the voting machines. As has been amply demonstrated, there's lots of ways that these can be wrong, whether by accident or malicious intent.


Perhaps more critically, Virginia law is very clear on what can and can't be done in case of a recount. Section 24.2-802(D)(2) says "For direct recording electronic machines (DREs), the recount officials shall open the envelopes with the printouts and read the results from the printouts. If the printout is not clear, or on the request of the court, the recount officials shall rerun the printout from the machine or examine the counters as appropriate. [...] There shall be only one redetermination of the vote in each precinct." Section (H) notes "The recount proceeding shall be final and not subject to appeal."

Virginia is no stranger to close elections. In 2005, the Attorney General's race was decided by less than 0.02% (that's two hundredths of a percent, not two precent), and in 2006 the Senate race was decided by less than 0.4%.

Thus, there are no meaningful recounts possible in Virginia. All you can do is total up the tapes from the individual machines - but you can't go looking to see if there's an error in the software or the ballot programming. I'd love to have the opportunity to convince a judge that the law violates the constitutional right to have your vote counted, but I doubt I'll have that chance.

For those of us who believe the voting requires paper trails, our best allies are those who lose elections, regardless of their party. Those who win are much less likely to want to risk opening their election results to inspection.
Comment on This Article
You must login to leave comments...
Other Visitors Comments
You must login to see comments...
< Prev   Next >
State Resources
Election Law @ Moritz
Electionline
National Conference of State Legislatures
Verified Voting
Model Legislation
: mosShowVIMenu( $params ); break; } ?>
State Pages
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Jersey
New Hampshire
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Guam
Puerto Rico
: mosShowVIMenu( $params ); break; } ?>