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Democrat Shelly Simonds ‘looking at legal options’ in tight 94th House District race

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — As the saga of Virginia’s 94th House District race continues to unfold, Democratic candidate Shelly Simonds said her team is considering legal action if a ruling that resulted in a tie between her and her opponent is not undone.

Simonds appeared to have defeated Republican Del. David Yancey by one vote on Tuesday. However, on Wednesday, a three-judge panel in charge of certifying a recount ruled that a ballot had initially been marked for Simonds, but the voter then crossed it out and marked it for Yancey. The race is now tied at 11,608 votes for each candidate.

Simonds argued that reclassifying the ballot did not follow regular procedure and accused her opponent’s campaign of not playing by the rules.

“On Wednesday, the judges decided to allow my opponent to pull one vote and look at one vote. And that is not part of the recount process. My team followed the rules of the recount process. And the other side really didn’t. So we are looking at our legal options for undoing that ruling,” she said on CNN’s “New Day.”

“We think that Tuesday’s result, which was decided by the electoral board and the volunteers from the registrar’s office, that that result should stand,” Simonds continued.

CNN has reached out to Yancey’s campaign for comment.

Speaking about the vote in question, Simonds said that it should have remained an “overvote” and should not have been counted.

“I’m getting calls from all over the state and all over the country about this ballot. A lot of people are saying that that could be a check mark,” she said.

A copy of the ballot was obtained by The Virginian-Pilot, showing that a fine slash mark was written through the bubble marking Simonds. The rest of the votes on the ballot were for Republicans.

If the tie vote stands, the winner will be determined by sheer luck — a drawing out of film canisters — that will take place Wednesday morning.

Virginia law says that in the event of a tie, the election board will determine the winner “by lot,” after which point Republicans believe the loser can petition for another recount; however, there is some disagreement among Virginia election experts as to how the law should be applied in this case.

If Simonds were to win, Democrats will be sharing power with Republicans in the state’s lower chamber (50-50). This would be the latest defeat for Republicans on the East Coast after they lost key races in Virginia and New Jersey last month.

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