Democrat Tinesha Allen was officially certified as the winner of Stafford’s Griffis-Widewater supervisor’s race on Wednesday, following a tedious, day-long recount at the Stafford County courthouse.
“The process played out like it should and proves our democracy works, and my district wanted change,” said Allen. “I’m excited to take on that change and represent Griffis-Widewater and Stafford County at large and I want to thank Jack for his 20 years of service to the community.”
Stafford Chief Judge Charles S. Sharp certified the results shortly before 6 p.m., confirming Allen did in fact defeat incumbent Jack Cavalier in the November 5 election by 18 votes.
Sharp, along with Alexandria Judge Lisa Bondareff and Arlington Judge William T. Newman, made up a three judge panel who officially certified the recount results.
On Tuesday, Clark Leming, the attorney representing Cavalier, filed a motion requesting the judges set aside any “undetermined ballots” which did not contain the names of Cavalier or Allen, or names of candidates for the General Assembly House of Delegates.
Leming based his motion on four affidavits he received from residents in the Moncure and Barrett precincts who reported candidates names were missing from their ballots.
Leming asked the judges to examine those ballots prior-to certifying the election, asserting those ballots could have an impact on the election’s outcome. Leming also sought to invalidate the election based on those ballots.
The recount failed to reveal any undetermined ballots and the court did not find the affidavits relevant to the outcome of the recount.
“This court did not find that those affidavits and the information provided, rise to the level for this court to be in any position, in any way with the evidence before it, to make a determination that there were any material changes in the results that were available,” said Sharp. “Accordingly, this court… will enter an order noting these numbers and noting that they do indicate Miss Allen to be the successful party in this race.”
“The recount was exactly the same turnout as the election, so, no changes, despite what people had told us,” said Cavalier. “A number of people said, even in sworn affidavits, that there were irregularities... It’s puzzling, but yet, it is what it is… I concede the election.”
County Registrar Anna Rainey said all 4,346 ballots from Griffis–Widewaters’ four precincts, as well as ballots from the Central Absentee Precinct, were run through two ballot counting machines for the recount. Those machines were programmed to reject all over and under votes.
Over-votes occur when a voter chooses more than the maximum number of selections allowed on the ballot, while under-votes occur when the number of choices selected by a voter is less than the maximum allowed for that election.
The rejected ballots were examined by recount officials on Wednesday, who used specific guidelines issued by the Virginia Department of Elections. The guidelines included numerous examples of improperly marked ballots to help guide recount officials in determining a voters’ intent.
The recount team was made up of four election officials, two representing each political party, chosen by each candidate. Two observers were also picked by each candidate. The team was drawn from the pool of election officials who participated in the Nov. 5 election.