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A Potential Ballot Issue in Fredericksburg Could Determine Who Controls House of Delegates

AP Photo / Alex Brandon

Control of the House of Delegates is still in play, and Democrats are calling attention to problems in Fredericksburg. 

Election officials are trying to get to the bottom of a problem in Fredericksburg that could end up determining control of the House of Delegates. Democrats say more than 600 voters in Fredericksburg may have been given the wrong ballots for the election to fill the seat vacated by retiring House Speaker Bill Howell. Lawyer Marc Elias is representing the Democrats.

“Obviously it is not a tolerable situation for 668 voters to be disenfranchised, and particularly not in an election where those votes were likely race determinative of the outcome.”

Republicans say the discrepancy may have happened because changes to precincts that were made after redistricting when Fredericksburg City Council districts were updated in 2011. If that’s not the case, though, Virginia legal expert Rich Kelsey says…

“The only possible remedy in this case would be to have a special election, and as you can imagine it’s a special election to control the entire House of Delegates. And there will be money pouring in from every corner of Virginia and every corner of the country.”

Right now, the House of Delegates is split 51 to 49 — although three races remain close. If the Democrats end up winning Speaker Howell’s seat the chamber will be split 50-50 and the two parties will be forced to create some kind of power sharing agreement.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.
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