Thursday, November 06, 2008

An interesting undecided race - Virginia's 5th Congressional

No, there's no massive undervotes or hanging chads or anything like that, but Virginia's 5th Congressional District, home to Charlottesville and the University of Virginia, is a cliffhanger: the Democratic challenger was ahead this morning by 31 votes out of 300,000 over the Republican incumbent - as of this writing the margin is about 600 votes. (Most recent info here .)

There's a couple of interesting things here:

(1) Problems with vote total uploads. The coverage (see below) indicates that there were problems uploading the unofficial results into VERIS, Virginia's statewide system for voter registration and election results. (This is the same system that appears to have been the cause of the long lines in Chesapeake.) The coverage indicates that right around midnight there was some sort of glitch and vote totals were scrambled and/or lost. As the reports are short on technical details, I'm not sure what really happened.

(2) The race is close enough that there's a good chance one of the candidates will ask for a recount (recounts aren't automatic in Virginia, but allowed when the margin is less than 0.5%). But Virginia law, as readers of this blog may remember, is extremely restrictive. For DREs, you look at the totals from the machines and re-add those. If the tape is illegible, you print a new one. For optical scan, you test the machine (the tests being undefined - it was the best I could do when we were amending the law) and then run the ballots through again and use the results from the total tape. Only with a judge's order can you manually inspect the ballots - but judges have refused since the law doesn't tell them when to allow inspection.

Not clear at this point what's going to happen next - will the purported loser challenge things?

Local coverage:


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