Tuesday night marked a significant stage in the race for Attorney General. In a razor thin election, State Senator Mark Herring (D-Loudon) has taken a tiny 163 vote lead after every single ballot in Virginia was accounted for in a lengthy statewide canvass.
While Herring's lead is small it looms large because now serious errors would have to be discovered in a recount for his opponent, State Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg), to overcome that margin.
The modern canvass operation is designed to find those errors first and as such they are rarely discovered during a recount.
(Fairfax electoral board members open provisional ballots. From NBC4's Julie Carey's twitter feed)
The final votes were counted during a lengthy session of the Fairfax Electoral Board which carefully adjudicated a large batch of provisional ballots. They made their final tally just after 9pm Tuesday, giving Herring a net gain of 57 votes.
While the counting is over the legal wrangling has just begun. Obenshain, who trails by .0074% of the vote called tonight just the first of a three step counting process and vowed to see that process through to the end.
Herring meanwhile declared victory and received congratulatory messages as the new Attorney General-Elect from high profile Democrats like Sen. Mark Warner.
The next step will be the review of the localities count by the State Board of Elections. They will then certify the final tally by November 25th. From there Obenshain will have the right to ask for a recount, paid for by the localities.
It will be only after that recount that we can officially declare a winner.
The complete statements from both campaigns can be found below. You will note the tone of Obenshain's message that makes it clear he is far from conceding.
HARRISONBURG – Mark Obenshain issued the following statement regarding the completion of the local canvass.
"At this stage, we are in the closest statewide election in Virginia history. The State Board of Elections currently estimates a difference of fewer than 200 votes out of more than 2 million votes cast. That's less than 1/100th of a percent difference. With the completion of the canvass of local boards, we have finished two of the three automatic steps of vote counting. The State Board of Elections will now conduct its own review, scheduled to be complete November 25th. We owe it to the people of Virginia to make sure we get it right, and that every legitimate vote is counted and subject to uniform rules. We have seen significant swings in the vote count over the last several days as errors are corrected as a part of the regular canvass process. The State Board of Elections will now conduct its own review and we will await their results. I thank our dedicated election officials who have put in long hours and given great care to their duty. We will make further announcements in the days ahead."
Attorney General-elect Mark Herring was declared the winner in the race for Virginia Attorney General.
After a thorough and complete canvass, Herring defeated his opponent Senator Mark Obenshain.
“Voters in Virginia have spoken, their voices have been heard and I am honored to have won their votes and their trust to become Virginia’s next Attorney General,” Attorney General-elect Herring said. “Over the course of the past week, a thorough and extensive process has ensured that every vote has been tallied and accounted for. The margin was close, but it is clear that Virginians have chosen me to serve as the next Attorney General.
“Today we begin the process of governing. I look forward to working with Virginians from all regions and all background, Democrats, Independents and Republicans to move our Commonwealth forward,” Attorney General-elect Herring added.
Following the vote canvass – a process overseen by bipartisan Boards of Elections in every locality, as well as volunteers and official observers from both parties to audit the voting process and ensure votes are tabulated correctly – Herring came out ahead of Obenshain.