Democrat Beats GOP Candidate By One Vote In Virginia

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A Democratic candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates has defeated her Republican rival by one vote after a recount.

Shelley Simonds was trailing Del. David Yancey by 10 votes going into the Dec. 19 recount in Newport News, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

But after the votes were counted at around 3:45 p.m., Simonds secured victory by the slimmest possible margin: 11,608 votes to 11,607.

The outcome means the House of Delegates will be split down the middle, with Republicans and Democrats having 50 delegates each.

"They've been so excited to get me up there," Simonds said of her Democratic Party supporters soon after the result.

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Republicans have held a majority for 17 years in the Virginia House of Delegates. The party went into the election in November 2017 with a 66-34 majority.

"The responsibilities of the House of Delegates as an institution transcend party labels, and our obligations to govern this Commonwealth remain," Kirk Cox, who was to have taken over as speaker, said in a statement. "As we have said for the last six weeks, we are committed to leading and governing alongside our colleagues."

Negotiations will now need to be held to determine who serves as speaker and who takes the various committee chair positions in the House. The Washington Post reported that the Republicans enjoy a 21-19 advantage in the state Senate, but the lieutenant governor, who would break a tie, is a Democrat. Virginia also has a Democratic governor with veto powers.

The House was last tied 50-50 in 1998.

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Simonds' victory could be legally challenged, raising the prospect of further uncertainty.

It was the first time in almost 30 years that the outcome of a  Virginia election changed following a recount.

Two other recounts in other districts are planned for Dec. 20 and Dec. 21. The current margins of victory in these cases are 336 and 82 votes, making it unlikely they will change hands.

Election races are decided by one vote more frequently than you might think.

In Clover, South Carolina, Greg Holmes defeated Donnie Grice in the mayoral race in November 2017. Holmes beat Grice by 427 votes to 426, according to WBTV.

In Britain's general election in June 2017, Stephen Gethins of the Scottish National Party squeezed home by two votes in the Fife North East constituency ahead of Elizabeth Riches of the Scottish Liberal Democrats. The final vote totals were 13,743 to 13,741, the BBC News reported.

Sources: The Virginian-Pilot, The Washington Post, WBTV, BBC News / Featured Image: Antony-22/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: SRS2016/Wikimedia Commons, VA State Park Staff/Flickr via Wikimedia Commons

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