- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Republican Mark D. Obenshain on Wednesday filed a petition asking for a recount of the results in this month’s attorney general’s race — a contest separated by just 165 votes.

In an 11-page petition and memorandum filed in Richmond Circuit Court, Mr. Obenshain’s lawyers stated that “the razor-thin margin, the need for accuracy and public confidence in the outcome require that a recount be held.”

The race was the closest in Virginia history, with the candidates separated by 0.007 percent out of more than 2.2 million votes cast.

Democrat Mark R. Herring was declared the winner of the attorney general race on Monday by the Virginia State Board of Elections, though board Chairman Charles Judd voted to certify the results “with question,” citing concerns he had about the “integrity of the data.”

Virginia law allows a losing candidate to request a recount if the margin is less than 1 percent of the vote.

Mr. Obenshain’s campaign pointed out that in the past 13 years four statewide elections in the country have had margins of fewer than 300 votes, and three of them were reversed after a recount.

“As we’ve seen in other races with a margin this slim, this result could easily change when it’s all said and done,” said Paul Logan, an Obenshain campaign spokesman.

The recount process begins with the State Board of Elections setting the standards for the handling, security and accuracy of the tally.

A three-member “recount court” is formed in Richmond and is headed by the chief judge of the Richmond Circuit Court, Judge Bradley B. Cavedo.

“As soon as the petition is filed the process begins for the recount court,” said Stephen C. Piepgrass, a member of Mr. Obenshain’s legal team. “We’ve been in touch with the Herring campaign and worked to make sure all of the procedures are agreed to and followed properly.”

Two additional circuit court judges are appointed to the board by the chief justice of the Virginia Supreme Court.

The recount court sets the standards for determining the accuracy of the votes and certifies the election results. Its ruling is final and cannot be appealed, according to Virginia law.

“The recount itself takes place in mid-December but it is up to the court when that is held,” Mr. Piepgrass said.

The ballots will be recounted in each precinct, Mr. Piepgrass said, adding that recount officials and campaign observers will be present at each location. Most jurisdictions should be able to complete the process in a day, but some could take two or three days.

The 165-vote margin comes to less than two votes per county.

Story Continues →