- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 25, 2003

RICHMOND (AP) — Less than one-third of Virginia’s registered voters bothered to cast ballots in the Nov. 4 elections.

The State Board of Elections reports that 30.8 percent of the state’s 4.2 million registered voters participated in the election. That amounts to about 1.3 million voters who cast ballots for General Assembly candidates and local constitutional officers.

Virginia Commonwealth University political scientist Robert D. Holsworth noted that 61 of the House of Delegates candidates had no challengers and that 19 of the 40 Senate seats were uncontested.

“There were only a few places where we had a real contest; the rest of the state was democracy by acclamation,” Mr. Holsworth said.

In the election, Republicans lost three House seats to reduce their number to 61 in the 100-member body. In the Senate, Republicans gained one seat, where they now will hold 24 out of 40 seats.

The election board’s official certification on Monday gave a 49-vote victory to Delegate W.B. “Benny” Keister, Pulaski Democrat, in Southwest Virginia’s 6th District. Mr. Keister won 8,141 votes to Republican Morgan Morris Jr.’s 8,092.

The margin of .03 percent entitles Mr. Morris to seek a recount under state law. He said the campaign is considering seeking one.

In addition to the possible recount, two elections might be contested in Bedford County, Jean R. Jensen, secretary of the elections board, said.

The Bedford County registrar inadvertently placed 50 voters in the wrong precinct, a mix-up that affected races for the Board of Supervisors and School Board.

Forty-one of the 50 persons voted, and the election results for the two boards were so narrow that the votes could have made a difference.

Miss Jensen said a court will have to decide whether to order another election.


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