By Carla Branch and James Cullum
A recount of all votes cast in the Jan. 13 special election to choose a member of the Virginia House of Delegates for the 46th District has ended the way it began: Democrat Charniele Herring, 1344 votes; Republican Joe Murray, 1328 votes.
Herring took the oath of office in Richmond at 1:50 p.m. today and less than 30 minutes later attended her first meeting as a member of the Courts of Justice Committee.
“Justice has triumphed,” said Susan Kellom, chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee, who was present in the Alexandria Courtroom for today’s recount. “Charniele can now begin to work for the people of the 46h District.”
Attorney’s for Murray asked the three-judge panel who were overseeing today’s recount to count additional absentee ballots that were disallowed by election officials. The judges told Murray’s lawyers that if they wished to contest the election, they must file that contest with the Virginia House of Delegates Privileges and Elections Committee.
Murray announced that he will not file an election contest and congratulated Herring by telephone. “I was pleased to learn from her staff that she’s been sworn in and was attending a committee meeting when I called,”Murray said. “This recount has been about assuring the voters of the 46th District that the votes they cast were counted accurately and that they have the representative of their choosing in the House. Of course, I had hoped to be that representative, but, ultimately, I requested this recount to ensue the integrity of the voting process. That goal has been accomplished.”
The three-judge panel “treated the parties with great respect and gave due consideration to the arguments,” said Chris Marston, chair of the Alexandria Republican City Committee. “While we may have disagreed with their decision, we appreciate their service.”
Herring was unavailable for comment. She replaces former Del. Brian Moran (D), who resigned last month to campaign full-time for Governor. Herring, 39, is a self-employed attorney and is the President of Alexandria’s West End Business Association.
The last General Assembly recount was in 2007 for Virginia’s 37th District Senate race between incumbent Ken Cuccinelli and Janet Oleszek, a race that Cuccinelli won by 92 votes. The recount added 9 votes to his tally, giving him a margin of victory of 101 votes. In 2005, there was a recount in the race for Virginia Attorney General between Republican Bob McDonnell and his challenger, Democratic Senator Creigh Deeds. Originally, McDonnell won by 323 votes. When the recount was finished, he had added 37 votes to that margin of victory, making it the closest state-wide race in modern Virginia history.