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State Board of Elections unanimously certifies Virginia's election results

State Board of Elections unanimously certifies Virginia's election results

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Voters line up outside the Eastern Government Center at 3820 Nine Mile Road in Richmond, Va., Saturday, October 31, 2020.Video by Alexa Welch Edlund/Times-Dispatch

Virginia’s State Board of Elections voted 3-0 Wednesday afternoon to certify the state’s election results, two days later than expected because of a COVID-19 outbreak in the city of Richmond’s voter registration office.

In a virtual meeting that lasted less than 10 minutes, the state certified its votes for president, U.S. Senate, U.S. House contests and state constitutional amendments, with no comment from board members or the public.

The board’s members are Chairman Robert Brink, a Democrat who represented Arlington County in the House of Delegates from 1998 to 2014; Vice Chairman John O’Bannon, a Republican who represented Henrico County in the House from 2001 to 2018; and Secretary Jamilah D. LeCruise, a Norfolk lawyer.

Virginia’s certification comes as former Vice President Joe Biden prepares to assume the presidency and President Donald Trump continues to sow doubt about the national election.

In Virginia, lawmakers and elections officials already are talking about potential changes to how the state reports results on election night. In this unprecedented election during the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 2.8 million Virginians voted in advance, either in person or via mail ballots.

Republicans dominated the 1.6 million votes cast in person on Election Day. Many localities did not report their advance votes — which skewed Democratic — until after 11 p.m. on election night, which led to late swings from Republicans to Democrats in a number of contests.

Following Wednesday’s vote, O’Bannon told the meeting’s participants that if post-election information from registrars reveals opportunities to improve efficiency, it would help the board to get the data as soon as possible ahead of the General Assembly session in January.

Elections Commissioner Chris Piper said state elections officials are working on collecting feedback while preparing for the Electoral College meeting on Dec. 14, when Virginia’s electors will cast the state’s 13 votes for Biden.

By the numbers

Democrats carried Virginia for a fourth straight presidential election after Republicans won the state’s electoral votes in every presidential contest from 1968 through 2004.

Among the numbers of note:

  • As of Nov. 1, Virginia had 5.97 million registered voters. Its 74.6% voter turnout was up from 72.1% in 2016. The state’s voter registration figure rose from 5.52 million in 2016.
  • Virginia’s voter turnout topped the state’s modern high mark of 74% in 2008, when Democrat Barack Obama first carried the state.

(Before the national “motor voter” law took effect in 1996, allowing registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles, Virginia voters were purged from the rolls if they had not cast ballots in four years. As a result, Virginia’s voter turnout often topped 80% in presidential years from 1976 to 1992.)

  • In winning a third term, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., received a Virginia record 2.46 million votes, topping Biden’s tally of 2.41 million. Both topped Warner’s previous state record, set in 2008 when he won his first Senate term, receiving nearly 2.37 million votes.
  • While they lost their races, Trump and Republican Senate candidate Daniel Gade posted the two highest vote totals ever recorded for GOP candidates in Virginia. Trump received 1.96 million votes and Gade received 1.93 million.

The GOP’s previous high marks in Virginia came in 2012, when presidential nominee Mitt Romney received 1.82 million votes while losing the state to Obama and George Allen garnered 1.78 million votes while losing a U.S. Senate comeback bid to Democrat Tim Kaine.

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