Voting Blogs: Virginia’s Odd Recount Law | State of Elections

March 25, 2015

Virginia is certainly no stranger to statewide recounts. It’s had two in the last ten years and the nail-biter senatorial race on November 4th almost increased that number to three. For a key swing state with a trend toward close elections, Virginia’s recount laws could become a deciding factor in national politics. The birth of Virginia’s current recount laws come from the 1978 senatorial race between former Virginia Attorney General Andrew P. Miller and former Virginia Senator John Warner. Senator John Warner won the seat by 0.39% of the total vote. Andrew Miller immediately filed a recount petition, but the law on the books required the losing candidate to fund the entire recount. Miller was forced to concede after failing to raise the $80,000 necessary to go forward. If a former state attorney general was unable to raise the money, it was implausible to assume that anyone else could, so the Virginia legislature enacted the current law that requires localities to bear the costs if the margin of loss is less than 0.5%.

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