As the dust settled on election night, a few things seemed clear about the race for Virginia attorney general: It was too close to call, the numbers would change during a statewide canvass and the loser would probably ask for a recount. What was then a standard-issue tight contest between state Sens. Mark D. Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) and Mark R. Herring (D-Loudoun) has turned into something more dramatic and uncertain. A frenetic weekend search for the right numbers -- much of it taking place at the Fairfax County Government Center -- produced thousands of uncounted votes and an even closer race.
Unless the tallies have changed over the last couple of hours, Obenshain's lead is 17 votes -- out of over 2.2 million votes cast in the race. It suggests a recount is all but inevitable and we won't know the final outcome before December.
But in case the thinner-than-thin margins weren't interesting enough, there was also some unexpected drama in Fairfax County, which is generally friendly towards Democrats, and where Herring was expected to pick up some additional votes from provisional ballots. WTOP, a prominent local radio station, reported over the weekend that a "last-minute change" may leave some provisional ballots uncounted.
Roughly 500 ballots would be affected, more than enough to shift the election in one direction or the other.
Rick Hasen took a closer look, raising questions about whether Fairfax's new directive is kosher.