Recounts sought in two Virginia Beach City Council races

VIRGINIA BEACH — Two City Council candidates will be asking the city for a recount of the 2018 election results, according to representatives from their respective campaigns.

The slew of close races could be because of high voter turnout, Virginia Beach Election Registrar Donna Patterson said. The 2018 elections saw more than triple the amount of absentee ballots than in 2014, and the largest midterm turnout in recent memory, Patterson said.

The requested recounts come after results of several narrow elections were certified by Patterson and the Virginia Beach Electoral Board on Nov. 13.

City Councilman John Uhrin, who lost his reelection bid to challenger David Nygaard, filed a petition for a recount with the Virginia Beach Circuit Court on Monday, according to court records.

In a crowded field of four candidates, Nygaard received 47,936 votes to Uhrin’s 47,724 — a difference of 212 votes, or 0.14 percent, according to the City of Virginia Beach’s certified election results.

Brad Martin, who lost to Councilman Louis Jones for the Bayside District seat, has confirmed he also plans to petition the court for a recount.

Related story: Close elections in Virginia Beach bring up one word: Recount

“We are requesting a recount, and are filing our paperwork today,” Martin said Tuesday.

Jones received 70,701 votes in the council race to Martin’s 70,198 — a difference of 503 votes, or 0.35 percent.

Jones was Virginia Beach Mayor until 2 p.m. Tuesday, when newly-elected Mayor Bobby Dyer was sworn into office. Jones became acting-mayor after Will Sessoms abruptly resigned on April 18.

In Virginia, recounts can only be requested if the difference between an apparent winning and losing candidates’ vote counts is “not more than one percent,” according to the Virginia Department of Elections’ “Step-by-Step Instructions” for election recounts.

Virginia Beach had three City Council races decided by less than 1 percent of the vote count; the Martin-Jones and Uhrin-Nygaard races, as well as the at-large contest between Councilman John Moss and challenger Dee Oliver.

Aaron Rouse received the most votes in that contest to secure one of two at-large seats; however, Moss defeated Oliver by only 0.14 percent — or just 347 votes. There is no indication that Oliver plans to file for a recount, and emails to her campaign were not immediately returned.

After a recount petition is filed in Virginia, a “recount court” comprised of the Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court and two other appointed judges, “will determine the procedures to be followed during the recount, what information will be accessible to the parties, and for which candidate, if any, a challenged ballot should be counted,” according to the department of elections’ recount guide.

The person having the most votes receives a certificate of election, which is issued by local electoral boards even if an election is being recounted.

If the recount court declares the losing candidate to be the actual winner, a new certificate of election is issued, making the original certificate null and void.

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