When the final story on the roller coaster ride that is the Virginia Attorney General's race is written the key moment may be in a nondescript room at Richmond City Hall.
It was in that room that a race that was consistently lead by the Republican State Senator Mark Obenshain suddenly flipped in the direction of the the Democrat, State Senator Mark Herring. It was a flip that given the votes left to be counted (the largest batch, a group of provisional ballots in Democrat rich Fairfax County) seems likely to position Herring to take the lead into certification.
It was at Richmond City Hall, that the city's Electoral Board confirmed that a voting machine in precinct 501 in the city's Carillon/Byrd Park Region was not counted on Election Night. It ended up being 190 votes not included in the final total, and a net gain of 116 votes for Herring and his first lead since the canvass began.
When it was all said and done, Herring gained 132 votes in Richmond alone and tonight on the Virginia State Board of Elections site had taken a 117 vote lead overall.
The loss of so many votes may seem crazy, but in reality it is not uncommon. For the most part they go unnoticed because the canvas of votes, where all these inconsistencies are hashed out, are not given much attention because the margin of victory is so great.
For instance- no one is asking how these revelations are impacting the race for governor (which they are) because Terry McAuliffe's victory was by so much that a few hundred votes here or there will have no impact on him becoming Virginia's next governor.
"My electoral board is very very thorough in finding every single vote and making sure it gets reported accurately," said J. Kirk Showalter, Richmond's General Registar.
There was some concern that there was something conspiratorial about the missing machine, but Showalter said they figured the problem early on in their canvass and worked to rectify the problem quickly.
She said issues like these crop up almost every year.
"Every single election," she sad. "It’s what we go through every single election and that is why the canvass is done- to catch these sorts of errors that might happen on Election Day."
Now we await to see the result of provisional ballots in Fairfax County, the last major batch of votes to be counted.
The State is not required to certify the vote until November 25th. It is not until then that a recount can be asked for. The margin must remain less than 1% to be allowed to ask for a recount. If it is less than .5% the localities must pay for the recount.
The current margin is less than .005%.
Sarah Bloom covered the story for NBC12 today. Her story is below:
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - For the first time since the election, Democrat Mark Herring has taken the lead over Republican Mark Obenshain and Richmond is at the center of the swing.
A canvass found an uncounted voting machine in Richmond precinct 501, and that was enough to push the Democrats to the front. Between the voting machine and a few uncounted paper ballots, Herring now has a net gain of 132 votes.
An unofficial count by the Cook Political Report puts Herring in the lead by 115 votes, claiming Herring's first lead of the canvas.
An error like forgetting to count a machine is not unprecedented. The registrar says it happens every year, but in this hotly contested race it obviously mattered more.
"As you've seen the figures are kind of small on the tape and in some precincts it might get dark and they just missed that one machine didn't get counted," said registrar Kirk Showalter. "But again, that's the whole purpose of the canvas and that's why we continuously say, what you hear on election night is not official results."
Throughout the two and a half hour meeting, attorneys filled the small registrar's office entryway- at times- shouting questions and asking the board to double check other precincts.
"I was hoping we'd be finished before Fairfax," laughed Showalter. "The interest could go North, but yeah, we have ongoing interest in the campaign.
But in the end, only precinct 501 had a significant discovery. A few other precincts had unreported paper ballots.
Both campaigns say they will continue to watch the canvas carefully.
"In a race this close we just have to make sure we get all our 'i's dotted and 't's crossed," said Republican representative Garren Shipley.
"We're here right now to just make sure that every vote is counted and that we have an open and transparent process and that we see that each individual voter had a voice in this election," said Ashley Bauman, press secretary for the Democratic Party of Virginia.
read and see Sarah's full story on NBC12.com