Upon this ballot lies the question of who is seated into the House of Delegates in Virginia — Democrat Shelly A Simonds for sure or David E Yancey with a 50-50 chance.  And with it, who controls the Virginia State House.

The challenged ballot shows bubbles for both Ms. Simonds and Mr. Yancey filled in, with a slash through the Simonds vote. Mr. Yancey’s lawyers argued in court last week that the voter intended to cross out the Simonds vote. The state handbook reads, “If there are identical marks for two or more candidates, clarified by an additional mark or marks that appear to indicate support, the ballot shall be counted as a vote for the candidate with the additional, clarifying marks.”

As further evidence of intent, Mr. Yancey’s lawyers pointed out the voter selected all the named Republicans on the ballot.

But in a motion this week, Ms. Simonds’s lawyers noted the bubble for the Republican candidate for governor, Ed Gillespie, was both blacked in and also marked with an X. Could an extraneous mark be both a sign of opposition to Ms. Simonds and of support for Mr. Gillespie?

Looking at this ballot, the Republicans do have a case.  The voter probably was voting for Yancey over Simonds.  The Democrats case on the meaning of the mark becomes convoluted, and disqualifies the Democratic candidate’s.

Basically if the ballot came out with the Democrats as so marked, and the Republicans as so marked, the Democrats would be insisting the ballot counted, and the Republicans insisting it be thrown out.  It is as we see the integrity of the ballot, as too — say, the integrity of the Abortion issue — such a deeply held heart-felt issue that politicians flip on the dime when the politics demand it.  (Mitt Romney and Donald Trump and Zell Miller on one end, Al Gore and Dennis Kucinich on the other.)

Simonds cries foul.  I suppose the Republicans might have fabricated nine ballots between the first recount and the next one, with a chin-scratching tenth one.  But if so, why not fabricate eleven?

So we wait.  January 4.  Sure to be broadcast on CSPAN.  Excitement abounds as we watch

Under Virginia law, if a race is tied, the election board draws lots to determine the winner. There’s no set procedure for drawing lots, but the State Board of Elections has suggested it will place both names in a small canister, put the canisters in a glass bowl, shake it up, and pull one name out. That candidate will be declared the winner. (In the past, the board has also broken ties by asking a blindfolded person to draw a name from a large cup.)

Exciting stuff, eh?

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