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UPDATE: Winner to be picked Friday in tied School Board race

South Boston NewsSouth Boston News
Satterfield, left, Best
SoVaNow.com / November 07, 2013
Election Night produced a number of loose ends — including in Halifax County’s Election District 6, where the School Board race between incumbent trustee Fay Satterfield and challenger Rita Best ended in a tie.

Each candidate collected 686 votes, a tally that remained unchanged after yesterday’s canvass of the vote.

The vote canvass, standard operating procedure after every election, took on added importance with the uncertain outcome in the Virginia Attorney General’s race. The two candidates, Mark Obenshain, a Harrisonburg Republican, and Mark Herring, a Loudoun Democrat, were separated by a mere 479 votes out of 2.2 million cast statewide as of late Tuesday afternoon.

Halifax County Registrar Judy Meeler said the local canvassing of Election Night returns resulted in a shift of about 100 votes on Wednesday. All day long, vote totals posted on the Virginia Board of Elections website fluctuated as canvas returns came in from across the state.

One result that the canvas did not change: the tie vote between Satterfield and Best.

If the deadlock holds up, as seems likely, the local Board of Elections will resolve the race by drawing the winner’s name out of a hat.

It may seem like an odd way to choose a School Board representative, but the Code of Virginia is clear on the method for breaking election ties: “by lot,” meaning any game a chance.

The tiebreaker can be a flip of the coin or a slip of paper pulled out of a hat; the method is determined locally.

Still undecided is when the tiebreaker will be held. “I don’t know when they’re [the Electoral Board] is going to do that, as of now,” said Meeler.

The School Board race qualifies for a recount under Virginia law that allows a recheck whenever candidates are separated by a vote of less than 1 percent. If the margin is less than .5 percent, the state pays the cost.

However, Meeler said a recount us unlikely to yield a different number for either School Board candidate. Voting in ED-6 is handled electronically, and election officials have already gone through the small number of paper ballots cast in the race.

“It’s not likely to change,” said Meeler.

When the winner is drawn from a hat, both candidates will be able to witness the procedure, as will any member of the public, said Meeler.

The voter canvas yesterday did lead to a slight change in another tight local race: for Board of Supervisors in ED-3.

Earl M. Womack, who emerged Tuesday night with a 4-vote lead, gained two more votes in the canvas.

He now has 466 votes, just ahead of second place finisher Ray Owen with 460 votes. Arthur Reynolds ran third with 311 votes.

In the AG’s race, Meeler noted that one thing to look for is the impact of provisional voting. Provisional ballots are allowed in situations where voters cannot produce ID on the day of voting, or apply for absentee ballots and don’t return them, then show up to vote on Election Day. Provisional ballots are counted when it can be shown that the vote was cast legitimately.

Late-coming absentee voters are usually easy to verify, and voters who don’t produce ID on Election Day have until Friday at noon to contact the registrar to verify that they are registered to vote.

Meeler said the canvas turned up six provisional ballots in Halifax County. Four are erstwhile absentee voters who came out to vote on Tuesday; their ballots have been accepted and counted. One voter cast a provisional ballot and returned to the precinct station later that day with valid ID. That vote has also been counted.

The final provisional ballot was cast by a person who is not registered to vote. It has been thrown out, said Meeler.

None of the provisional ballots were cast in ED-6, with the tied School Board vote.

While provisional ballots will have no bearing on the final vote outcome in Halifax County, Meeler said the story could be different elsewhere in Virginia in the Attorney General’s race. “You have Fairfax County in northern Virginia, they have a hundred some precincts. They obviously have a large amount of voters. So I have no idea about that.”

In the other statewide races, Democrat Terry McAuliffe defeated Republican contender and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli by 54,946 votes, a 47.7-45.3 percent margin, with Libertarian candidate Robert Savis getting 6.5 percent of the vote.

In Halifax County, Cuccinelli won 5,432 votes and McAuliffe took 3,909, a 54-39 split.

In the Lieutenant Governor’s race, Norfolk state senator Ralph Northam eased past GOP challenger E.W. Jackson by nearly 11 percentage points, 55.1-44.5. Jackson ran well behind the rest of the GOP ticket in Halifax County, winning by only 42 votes, 4,764 to 4,722 for Northam.

Halifax delivered a resounding victory for Obenshain in the Attorney General’s race, with 5,779 votes to 3,778 for Herring.

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Comments

Since we could not get rid of hopkins, I hope we can get rid of saterfield. Also please let the AG win go the Mark! At least he can continue the obummer care law suit. If you look at a map of VA, Ken won. Illegal immigrants and transplants gave the vote to that obama minion in NOVA an Hampton. I just hope Ruff and Edmonds put on their big boy pants and don't let any of the minions policies get through. But he will be gone in 2016 to run with billiary.

Comments

I have long said that Halifax County politics was run like ,"Lets Make a Deal." Monte Hall would have been a great county administrator. Like Hillary said,"What difference does it make." Between Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dumb.

Comments

saterfield won the draw, I would have requested a coin toss,

Comments

Let's give this more thought. Call a public meeting where each candidate is allowed three minutes to present her views. After the views have been presented, require the audience to choose. By what device? Applause, some sort of ballot for the attendees... Just think that we can introduce a little democracy in something expected to be totally random.


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