It's a rough start to the year for Democrats in Virginia after they appear to have lost a pivotal election to determine which party controls the state's House of Delegates.
Today Republican David Yancey was declared the winner in the house of delegates race for Virginia's 94th district after his name was randomly drawn from a bowl in a tie-breaking procedure.
In December a recount of the 94th House District race gave Democrat Shelly Simonds a victory over Republican incumbent Yancey by just one vote —making the final tally 11,608 to 11,607. The news made Democrats ecstatic: The victory meant Republicans had lost the majority in the House for the first time in 17 years and would be forced to share power with Democrats, making it easier for Governor-elect Ralph Northam to push his liberal agenda.
But that all quickly changed when a three-judge panel tasked with certifying the results gave Yancey one uncounted ballot, tying the race once again, this time 11,608 to 11,608.
Virginia law says that in the event of a tie, the winner should come down to drawing a lot. Yes, you read that correctly.
Today marked the the Virginia Board of Elections' second attempt at the drawing. It was initially scheduled for December but was canceled when Simonds asked a court to discount ballot it had previously decided to count for Yancey. The court rejected Simonds' motion on Wednesday.
To start the tie-breaking process the board printed pieces of paper with Simonds and Yancey's names, and cut them to the same size. Then, the slips went into old film canisters, and the canisters were placed in a bowl which was then shaken up and and one name was drawn.
But the election drama isn't necessarily over. The Virginia Pilot reports that Either Yancey or Democrat Shelly Simonds could ask for another recount.
The process would then extend beyond the General Assembly's Jan. 10 start date.
It remains unclear if Simonds plans to challenge the results but The Pilot reports after the drawing she said, "all options are still on the table."
This is not the first time an election has been determined by drawing a name. James Alcorn, chairman of the board, told the Pilot that though the film canister process hasn't been used before, in 1971 a similar House of Delegates race was determined by drawing a name out of a big silver cup.
This story was originally published on December, 21, 2017.