FAIRFAX, Va. -
The already-tight Attorney General race in Virginia got a lot tighter on Saturday. The Electoral Board in the most populous jurisdiction in the state met on Saturday and voted unanimously to revise its earlier figures for absentee voters.
The initial figures from Fairfax County had omitted about 3,200 ballots. The revised count gave Republican nominee for Attorney General Mark Obenshain an extra 938 votes. Democratic nominee Mark Herring got an extra 2,070 votes from the new figures.
Combining figures from the State Board of Elections with the new figures from Fairfax County, it appears Obenshain's lead has dwindled from about 1,260 votes to about 130 votes.
Nearly 500 provisional ballots must still be counted in Fairfax County. On Friday the State Board of Elections sent out an "instruction" changing the rules on how local election boards consider provisional ballots.
In previous elections, attorneys from each of the major political parties would be permitted to make a case for (or against) each ballot before the local election boards. The new instructions say, "There shall be no legal counsel or representative present in the meeting without the voter being present."
On Saturday, both major parties started calling voters who used provisional ballots, asking them to come to the Fairfax County government center. Laura Bergner did that. After a closed-door meeting with the Electoral Board, Bergner told reporters she simply explained to the Board that she got an absentee ballot while studying abroad, but managed to return to the U.S.before election day, and therefore went to vote.
Bergner said the Democratic party had called her. When reporters asked who she voted for in the close race for Virginia Attorney General, she smiled and declined to say.
The Fairfax Electoral Board is inviting provisional voters to show up and make the case for their ballots on Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on Monday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
How did Fairfax County initially mis-count some absentee ballots? Brian W. Schoeneman (R), the Secretary of the Fairfax Co. Electoral Board, explained: "Because of a machine error -- a machine problem in an optical scan machine -- we had to re-run a number of ballots. That produced two different tapes. and there was a tabulation error by the staff (in choosing the correct tape to tabulate)."
Although it appears Obenshain still leads in the statewide vote totals, Democrats are hopeful that a majority of the nearly 500 provisional ballots in Fairfax County will favor their candidate, Herring.
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