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Someone Just Won A Virginia Election After His Name Was Picked Out Of A Bowl


Posted on January 4, 2018, at 11:36 a.m. ET

Republican David Yancey was declared the winner of a dramatic tied election in Virginia after his name was pulled out of a ceramic bowl on Thursday.

Democracy in action: Republican David Yancey's name is pulled out of a film canister from a ceramic bowl and he is…

The insane House race for the 94th district, which began with the Democratic candidate, Shelly Simonds, winning by a single vote on Dec. 19, ended with the Republican incumbent, Yancey, winning the election after his name was drawn out of a film canister placed in a ceramic bowl.

Here's how it all went down:

On Dec. 19, Simonds appeared to be the winner of the race after defeating Yancey by one vote.

The victory for Simmonds was seen as a final blow for Republicans in Virginia, who lost 15 House seats in November's election — a rout that many observers saw as a tacit rejection of President Trump's policies.

"I want to thank the voters who came out on Nov. 7," Simonds said in a statement after the Dec. 19 recount. "What a difference this is from 2015 when I ran before. Everyone came out and we rocked this town."

While the result was yet to be certified by the panel of judges the next day, both Democrats and Republican leaders in the House of Delegates congratulated Simonds on the victory.

On Dec. 20, after Yancey's campaign challenged a ballot they said went uncounted, a three-judge panel ruled that the single ballot was in fact a vote for him — making the race a tie.

During the panel hearing to certify the recounted votes, a GOP election official submitted a letter asking the court to look into the single ballot that he claimed should have been counted for the Republican.

According to a Daily Press reporter present at the hearing, the election official claimed that a Democratic colleague on his team convinced him not to count a ballot — where both candidates' names were marked and where the voter had chosen Republican candidates in all the other races.

Here's the contentious ballot in which the voter had filled in the bubbles for both Simonds and Yancey, but had also added a strike through Simonds' bubble. The judges "could see the intent of the voter" and ruled that the ballot should be counted for Yancey.

On Dec. 21, James Alcorn, the chairman of the Virginia State Board of Elections, announced that they would draw names to determine the winner of the now-tied race on Dec. 27.

In past elections, as per Virginia law, the state board draws the winner's name out of a bowl in case of a tie.

The Dec. 27 drawing was postponed after Simonds requested the recount court to reconsider the ballot that was counted for Yancey. However, the three-judge rejected her request to intervene and the random draw was rescheduled for Jan. 4.

On Thursday, two slips of paper printed with the candidates' names were inserted into film canisters, which were sealed and then shuffled in a ceramic bowl made by a local artist from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Alcorn picked out one of the canisters from the bowl, which would determine the winner, while the vice chair of the election board, Clara Bell Wheeler, picked out the canister which would contain the losing name.

Alcorn drew out the slip from his canister that happened to have Yancey's name on it, making him the winner of the race.

The win means Republicans will narrowly keep control of the state House, holding 51-49 seats.


A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.