RICHMOND, Va. – Richmond election officials still have to count thousands of absentee ballots that could change the outcome of Tuesday night’s election for Richmond mayor.
General Registrar Kirk Showalter said officials still have to count as many as 9,000 absentee ballots.
Usually, officials count the absentee ballots by the end of election night, but the city had so many absentee ballots this year, they could not finish that process.
Showalter said that is very unusual.
“It’s very rare. It happened once maybe 15 years ago," said Showalter. “They worked up until about 2 o’clock last night until which point the board decided they were too tired to continue and get accurate results so they suspended it.”
Showalter said they sent out about 9,000 absentee ballots to Richmond voters, but she doesn’t know exactly how many were returned.
Still, this means the results from the mayor’s race, which showed Levar Stoney winning 5 of the 9 districts, could change.
“Levar said whether or not it went to December or they could call it last night, he knew that he had built a broad coalition he needed to and we have momentum that we needed to get into city hall," said Matt Corridoni, Levar Stoney’s press secretary.
Stoney and Berry were locked in a tight battle in the city's 3rd District. Last night’s results with 100% of precincts reporting showed Stoney won it by only about 600 votes.
Officials don’t know which districts the absentee ballots come from but say the new votes could potentially lead to a runoff election in December.
Stoney and Berry have decided to hold off on speaking to media until they know the official vote results.
“Patience. We’re getting there. We want to be accurate rather than too fast," said Showalter.
Showalter said election night results are never official until canvassing is complete. That’s when officials go through results from individual precincts to make sure there were no mistakes.
“We have teams of the best election officers going through statements of results from all the precincts to make sure nobody added anything wrong, to make sure all the signatures are all there so if we have a recount or a contest, we have the documentation of the election," said Showalter.
Showalter expects to have the unofficial results from the absentee ballots Wednesday afternoon.
The total votes won’t be verified until Tuesday.