Late absentee ballots won’t be counted in Stafford’s D-28 House race

STAFFORD, Va. – The Stafford County Electoral Board will not be forced to count the 55 absentee ballots which arrived after deadline in the contested District 28 House race, a federal judge ruled Friday.

Republican Bob Thomas leads Democratic candidate Joshua Cole by 82 votes.

Attorneys for Cole filed to have a judge order the votes be counted.

The lawsuit included an email sent from Registrar Greg Riddlemoser, which questioned “how can there be zero, zero, zero [ballots] all afternoon and evening and then suddenly 55?”

Riddlemoser said that the Richmond Distro Center USPS contacted them at 3:30 p.m. Election Day, and had 10 ballots. There were no other ballots received throughout the day other than one hand-delivered ballot.

Riddlemoser said in the emails that “maybe 55 would have swung one or both” of the races; there was also a Board of Supervisors race with a close outcome.

The Stafford County Garrisonville District supervisor race was won by an extremely close margin. Incumbent Laura Sellers, a Democrat, lost to Mark Dudenhefer (Republican) by 12 votes.

Both races are eligible for a recount.

The Commonwealth experienced an unprecedented sweep of House Democrats seat, with at least 15 seats won last week in a wave election. That brings the current numbers to 49 versus 51 in the chamber.

In addition to HD-28, HD-40 and HD-94 also remain in recount territory.

"We are disappointed with the court's ruling that effectively disenfranchises 55 voters who submitted their ballots correctly but whose voices remain unheard due to an error of the United States Postal Service,” in a statement written by the Virginia House Democratic Caucus. “We are currently assessing our options on that issue as we also await a response from the State Board of Elections regarding the voters in HD-28 who appear to have been given ballots for HD-88 on Election Day."