Update: Goode and Perriello Race Too Close to Call

By: Cheryn Stone Email
By: Cheryn Stone Email

November 4, 2008

Two days after the election there is still no clear winner in Virginia's 5th Congressional District. Numbers from the Associated Press and the SBE differ on who is in the lead. The AP reports incumbent Virgil Goode (R) is winning by 363 votes, while the Virginia State Board of Elections shows Tom Perriello (D) extending his lead by 634 votes.

As of 3:45 pm Thursday afternoon, the State Board of Election's website shows Tom Perriello with 158,514 votes, while Virgil Goode has 157,880 votes. The difference of 634 votes, a 0.2% difference, is within the legal range to request a recount. The site shows 100% of precincts reporting.

To take a look at those results visit the Virginia State Board of Electionswebsite.

With official vote tallies coming in from around the fifth district, Jessica Barba, communications director for the campaign, expressed her optimism in a statement released 3:00 pm Thursday: "We feel confident that Tom Perriello will be declared the winner in this race. Our win margin has been growing wider as the results have been coming in from the official vote tally," said Barba. "Now it appears that we... have a substantial lead in the race."

There is a lot at stake with this race. It will determine whether Republicans will maintain an edge among Virginia's Republican delegation or whether the Democrats will take the lead.

Wednesday morning, Goode released the following statement:

"With all but one reliably Republican precinct reporting, the State Board of Elections is reporting that I am leading my opponent by more than 300 votes. We have scrubbed the numbers and confirmed them with local officials and I am confident that after today's canvassing by the individual registrars' office this lead will be sustained. It has been a long, hard-fought campaign and I feel good about where we are right now."

Goode held a conference call with the media late Wednesday morning discussing the next steps.

Goode said he's optimistic that when every vote is counted he'll prevail, but he'll wait until all the votes have been counted before his camp formally asks for a recount. He cited that Virginia law provides that if the race is within half a percent, the losing party can call for a recount.

Goode also said that to his knowledge, all the absentee ballots have been counted, but he is concerned about some provisional ballots not complying with Virginia law. For example, voters may have been at the wrong voting precinct, or did not bring the proper forms of identification.

So far, Goode has not heard from the Perriello campaign.

Goode did not rule out the possibility that lawyers could end up getting involved if a recount is needed.

Both Goode's campaign and those from Perriello's side are keeping a close watch on the numbers as they've been fluctuating throughout the morning. Talk of a recount surfaced, but Perriello says they have to make sure of the first count before talking about a recount.

"We feel like, based on what's out there based on provisional ballots and otherwise that we're going to pull ahead at the end of the day," said Perriello. "We just need to make sure that every vote is counted and that we all keep things calm while that comes together and plays itself out."

Both Goode and Perriello mentioned there are still a number of provisional ballots that need to be counted. Each county will be going through that process Wednesday.

Right now this race is close enough to qualify for a recount. If an eligible candidate asks for one that process would start after the board certifies the results. It could be several weeks until we have a final decision on who will represent Virginia's fifth district.

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