Home / News / Virginia Will Draw a Name From a Bowl to Decide House of Delegates Majority, Instead of Examining Digital Images of Paper Ballots

Virginia Will Draw a Name From a Bowl to Decide House of Delegates Majority, Instead of Examining Digital Images of Paper Ballots

Photo Credit: https://virginiahouse.gop

Next Wednesday, the Virginia Board of Elections will literally lift a name out of a play to confirm who won the apparently tied 94th House of Delegates race, and so find out if a blue voter call has broken this decade’s GOP close on its legislature.

The BOE will place two candidates’ names on paper inside film canisters and a leader will be drawn—a technique right out of 19th-century America.

What they won’t be doing is use permitted open annals combined by 21st-century record to establish the 11,608 votes now awarded to the obligatory Republican, David Yancey, and to Democratic challenger Shelly Simonds.


The BOE could inspect digitized images of any paper list scanned by the Election Night computers that tallied the vote. But astoundingly, it won’t, citing superannuated state laws, which also forestall it from reexamining provisional and absentee ballots that were primarily deserted (possibly as wrongly filled out or shabby registration status).

But the digitized list images are there in Newport News’ voting machine to control a verifiable 21st-century recount, pronounced Chris Sautter, an election counsel specializing in recounts formed in circuitously Washington.

“If you are an elections addict as we am, you have to adore this,” he said, sarcastically. “I’ve been concerned in some really close elections, including the 4-vote relate domain in the closest U.S. House race in complicated times. Last year, we represented a Virginia claimant in a relate that was motionless by 3-votes. But we have never been directly concerned in an election that was motionless by a lot drawing.”

“The counties concerned apparently saved list images in this race,” Sautter continued. “But Virginia state law requires that they solve a tie by lot or flip a coin. It is really an anarchism—kind of like a duel. They should go to the list images.”

Digitized list images are rising opposite the country as a pathway to verifying votes, since they increasingly are a standardised underline of the scanners used to alphabetise ink-marked paper ballots. But the problem is they are not being seen or treated as open annals by a operation of state supervision officials, from election administrators even to judges, despite state and sovereign laws that need all election materials be preserved.

Part of the reason may be since open annals laws, which extend media and open entrance to supervision documents, were mostly created before computers were widely used. But as was seen in Alabama’s controversial U.S. Senate race progressing this month, entrance to the digitized list images became a narrow-minded football that Republicans kicked around to frustrate a recount—before their candidate, Roy Moore, was narrowly degraded and Moore himself called for a recount.  

In Alabama, 4 voters—a Democrat, Republican, eccentric and a minister—sued in Montgomery County justice to safety the scanned list images. The county judge concluded and systematic the top statewide election central to indoctrinate every county election bureau to safety them by checking a box on a program window after branch on the machines. That’s how elementary it is.

But Republican Secretary of State John Merrill sought and won an emergency sequence the night before the opinion from the Supreme Court of Alabama—to indoctrinate internal election officials not to save the images. Though the state’s GOP didn’t categorically contend so in public, it’s transparent that Alabama’s red statute category didn’t wish to help Democrat Doug Jones if there was a probable recount.

But there are bigger issues here. In Alabama, just as in Virginia, the citizenry and electorate merit accurate and accurate depends no matter which party wins. The media, generally any state’s newspapers of record and veteran press associations, should join the fight to safety and entrance these elemental open documents—individual list images. But so far, they’re absent.  

In Alabama, Merrill’s attorneys—from the state profession general’s office—argued in justice that state law only referred to paper ballots, not the electronic images of any ballot.

“Neither election officials nor legislators know the value and intensity of list images,” Sautter said. “That is the mindset we are trying to change with the lawsuit in Alabama and the efforts to need refuge of list images around the country. The next step after refuge is to use them.”

Ironically, as Virginia is staid to establish its reduce legislature chamber’s narrow-minded change of energy next week by sketch a name out of a hat, a check was introduced in the U.S. Senate whose purpose was to ensure against hacking of voting machinery, signaling that electronic machine is here to stay. 

“Lawmakers in the Senate introduced legislation currently that would help states forestall cyberattacks on election infrastructure and raise certainty in opinion totals from electronic voting machines,” review the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School’s press recover touting this development.

The election clarity activists operative with Sautter have regularly pronounced the best hacking-proof measures count on using digitized list images for pointless audits to establish the reported Election Night totals, and for recounts. 

There’s no revelation what will reveal next Wednesday in Virginia, but certainly branch to the digitized images to establish the count would enthuse some-more open certainty than enchanting in the homogeneous of a 19th-century duel.  

“Of course, the list images could show the relate to have been accurate, in which case they still need a process to solve a tie election,” Sautter said. “Perhaps a turn of Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuits creates some-more sense?”


Steven Rosenfeld covers inhabitant domestic issues for AlterNet, including America’s democracy and voting rights. He is the author of several books on elections and the co-author of Who Controls Our Schools: How Billionaire-Sponsored Privatization Is Destroying Democracy and the Charter School Industry (AlterNet eBook, 2016).

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