U.S. News

Virginia election results face delay, possible recounts

(Reuters) - Two Virginia House of Delegates election races remain in question two weeks after the vote after a state board delayed certification of the results over an alleged ballot mix-up.

For a full interactive graphic of states' partisan composition, see:

Democrats said that the State Board of Elections “acknowledged that at least 83 people were mis-assigned in the system and thus possibly disenfranchised from voting in their appropriate house district,” according to a statement from the Virginia House Democratic Caucus on Monday. Republican candidates led in both district races in question.

Republican House speaker-designee Kirk Cox criticized the delay in a statement, saying the board was “statutorily obligated to certify the results as sent to them by the local electoral boards.”

If Republicans win the seats, the state’s House would be split 51 to 49 between Republicans and Democrats, respectively, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Virginia’s House would have gained 15 Democrats overall, the data showed.

The unexpectedly large Democratic gains in Virginia’s statehouse were among the party’s first big election victories since Republican Donald Trump won the White House in 2016.

Democrats in the state are anticipating calling a recount in one district that has already been certified, and “assessing options” in another district, said Katie Baker, spokesperson for the Virginia House Democratic Caucus.

Republicans are “considering our options” for at least one district, said Parker Slaybaugh, spokesperson for speaker-designee Cox.

Following this month’s elections, the political control of one U.S. state, New Jersey, switched, with the state’s governorship changing from Republican to Democrat, resulting in the state becoming majority Democrat across its governmental branches.

New Jersey and Virginia were the only two states to hold general elections this year.

Several other states held special elections. While some state legislatures added or lost members from the Republican and Democratic parties, most states retained their respective partisan compositions, according to the NCSL data.

John Mahoney, a policy associate at NCSL, said the results could not serve as an indication for next year’s midterm elections.

“Certainly it showed there was a groundswell in Virginia,” he added. “The Democrats took back a lot of seats. But to extrapolate that out to all 50 states I think would be unwise at this point.”

Following the 2017 elections, 25 states are controlled by Republicans and eight by Democrats. Control over 16 states remains divided among political parties, according to the data.

For comparison, in August 25 states were controlled by Republicans and seven by Democrats. Seventeen states were divided, according to NCSL data.

Reporting by Stephanie Kelly; Editing by Daniel Bases and Andrew Hay