Ballots from Stafford’s 27 voting precincts were officially certified Tuesday by the county Electoral Board, bringing the Nov. 5 election to a close.
With one exception.
The certified results confirmed Democrat Tinesha Allen’s defeat of incumbent Jack Cavalier by 18 votes in the county’s Griffis–Widewater supervisor’s race.
Allen received 2,182 votes, compared with 2,164 votes for Cavalier.
Cavalier said he will file for a recount in Stafford’s Circuit Court to count those ballots again.
He has 10 days to do so.
“That’s the plan right now,” said Cavalier. “There were just enough discrepancies in over- and under-votes in my district to warrant some physical inspection of the ballots.”
An over-vote occurs when a voter chooses more than the maximum number of selections allowed on the ballot, while an under-vote occurs when the number of choices selected by a voter is less than the maximum allowed for that election.
Cavalier will pay the circuit court $86 to file his petition, which lays out the reasons for the recount. Attorneys will then create a preliminary order for the circuit court, which will determine which county judge will handle the recount case.
“I’m not surprised by my opponent’s decision to call for a recount,” Allen wrote in an email. “Based on our rules, he’s entitled to it, so what I’m going to do is respect the process and let it play out so that at the conclusion of the recount, voters will have 100 percent confidence in their votes and in our elections.”
Kathleen Sterne, Stafford’s clerk of the court, said the biggest challenge during a recount is getting all of the involved parties together all at the same time.
“It’s a lot of scheduling of judges, attorneys, rooms; it usually takes 2–3 weeks to set everything up,” Sterne said.
According to County Registrar Anna Rainey, all ballots from the Griffis–Widewater district, as well as those from the Central Absentee Precinct, will be run through the machines.
The machines will be programmed to reject over- and under-votes, as well as write-ins.
Any ballots rejected by the machines will be put aside and examined by a recount team that will determine the outcome of each ballot. The team operates and makes its decisions following state rules and guidelines.
The recount team will be chosen by each respective party from the pool of election officials who participated in the Nov. 5 election. Virginia code states the court shall “permit each candidate, or petitioner and governing body or chief executive officer, to select an equal number of the officers of election to be recount officials and to count printed ballots, or in the case of direct recording electronic machines, to re-determine the vote.”
A similarly close race in 2017 between Laura Sellers and Mark Dudenhefer for the Garrisonville District supervisor’s seat also went to a recount. That recount ran until Dec. 12, largely because of scheduling conflicts.
Once that recount was underway, it took close to seven hours to complete. In the end, Dudenhefer, a Republican, picked up one ballot, giving him a 13-vote victory over Democratic incumbent Laura Sellers.