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Fairfax GOP head questions vote totals in Connolly-Fimian race

By Ben Pershing
Ben Pershing

With the race between Rep. Gerald Connolly (D) and Oakton businessman Keith Fimian (R) in Virginia's 11th district still unresolved, the head of the Fairfax County GOP is suggesting that "there are several developments in the ... race that may call into question the accuracy of the current vote totals."

Connolly leads Fimian by 930 votes, according to the Virginia State Board of Elections site (Connolly's camp said Thursday night the actual number was 935). Because that margin -- .4 percent -- is less than 1 percent, Fimian is entitled to ask for a recount after the state certifies the results Nov. 22.

The three jurisdictions in the district -- Fairfax County, Fairfax City and Prince William County -- are finishing up the canvassing process and counting provisional ballots, with representatives from both campaigns watching closely. Operatives from both parties who have monitored the process say privately that they haven't seen any scenario by which Fimian could make up the difference in a recount, but Fimian has not said whether he will request a recount or concede.

As for the incumbent, Connolly spokesman George Burke said Thursday, "We are confident of Connolly's win. We believe that mathematically, there is no chance that a recount (which is just a glorified canvass) can turn it around."

But Anthony Bedell, chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Committee, issued a memo Friday outlining several "issues that are being looked at" in the vote count.

In some cases, Bedell noted, machines appear to have recorded incorrect numbers of votes. Many absentee ballots sent to military and overseas voters haven't been returned, and other absentee ballots rejected by county officials may merit a second look.

Bedell does not say flat-out that Fimian will or should request a recount, or that he would win if a recount occurred. He just notes that "these are some of the questions that are being considered at this time."

The full memo is below.

Team Fairfax: Many of you have asked me for an update of the status of the election for Congress in the 11th. Here is what I know as of 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 5:

1. No winner has been declared in the 11th Congressional District Election, which remains one of the closest elections in the country. Three days after the closing of the polls, the difference in votes for Keith Fimian and Gerald Connolly is less than 1,000 votes out of over 220,000 cast in the election -- well within the margin for a recount in Virginia.

2. Right now, each locality in the 11th Congressional District is winding up a post-election canvass, including counting provisional ballots. The canvass is a legal process in which local officials literally reconstruct the results of the election one voting machine and one precinct at a time, to ensure that all votes validly cast in the election are counted fairly and accurately. Once the local canvass is finished, including provisional ballots, the local officials will send the election returns to Richmond for further review by state election officials, who will certify the official results of the election later this month.

3. The canvass is a public process, and our observers have been monitoring it since the minute it began.

4. There are several developments in the Fimian - Connolly race that may call into question the accuracy of the current vote totals.

Here are the issues that are being looked at:

  • In Fairfax County, the voting machines failed to register votes from over 800 ballots, including 106 in the Sideburn precinct alone. (Keith Fimian won that precinct 58% - 40%.) In Prince William County, the machines failed to register votes on more than 200 additional ballots.
  • In several precincts, there were actually more votes than voters. That is, voting machines reported a higher number of votes than the number of voters marked on the pollbooks as having voted in the election.
  • As of Election Day, there were over 1,150 absentee ballots that had been mailed out to military and other overseas voters but had yet to be received back in the 11th Congressional District.
  • We also understand that officials in Prince William County rejected over 280 absentee ballots, with another 200-300 absentee ballots being rejected in Fairfax County.

So the process is unfolding as set forth in the law and these are some of the questions that are being considered at this time.

Thank you.

Anthony Bedell

By Ben Pershing  | November 5, 2010; 11:10 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races, Ben Pershing, Election 2010, Gerald E. Connolly, Keith Fimian  
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thank you Mr. Bedell
We cannot give up on this yet, we appreciate your work.

Mr. Connolly, don't cancel the moving truck just yet!

Mr. Fimian, please ask for the recount you are entitled to.
You have come too far and we are depending on you.

for those of you looking for a good laugh at Gerry's expense,
please go to

It nails Gerry's problem on the head.

Posted by: fairfaxgoper | November 5, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Connolly ran a great race and has won. I think Fimian should definitely go for a recount so he can be sure of his rejection for the second time.
Fimian ran a good race too, but I voted against him based on his abortion position and call for repeal of health reform.

No woman who is pregnant by rape should be denied the choice of whether to have the child. And health reform finally put some brakes on private health insurance companies who make money by denying claims and coverage so they can pay their CEOs millions of dollars a year in salary and bonuses.

Posted by: fairfax66 | November 5, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Now Anthony Bedell and the Fimian troops want to spend taxpayer dollars on a race that is over. Sore losers.

Just say 'no' to the wasteful expenditure of taxpayer money on the recount, unless Keith Fimian is willing to pay for the whole tab.

There was no big change in the 2005 McDonnell/Deeds recount, there won't be one here. But the Republicans will waste a lot of taxpayer money.

Posted by: CallThemOut | November 5, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Everything turns foggy except the instances where there were more votes cast than voters on the rolls.

Posted by: blasmaic | November 5, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Virginia Law:
"Your voted ballot must be received by 7:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Savings Time on Tuesday, November 2, 2010 ."

If the military oversees ballots weren't received in time, they do not count.

Posted by: jeadpt | November 5, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Virginia Law:
"Your voted ballot must be received by 7:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Savings Time on Tuesday, November 2, 2010 ."

If the military oversees ballots weren't received in time, they do not count.

Posted by: jeadpt | November 5, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Virginia Law:
"Your voted ballot must be received by 7:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Savings Time on Tuesday, November 2, 2010 ."

If the military oversees ballots weren't received in time, they do not count.

Posted by: jeadpt | November 5, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

According to the State Board of Elections web site, Connolly's margin over Fimian is now 968 votes.

In the precincts where there were more votes recorded than the final number on the pollbook count sheet, it is highly likely that a number was used twice. A review of the pollbooks will show whether or not this is so, but having been an election officer, I can assure you that it does happen.

I also observed the canvass, and even if there were two more voters per precinct than were recorded on the pollbooks for all 109 precincts in the 11th CD (which didn't happen, because in some precincts there were fewer than the number of voters on the pollbook, and in others there were the same number), and furthermore, if all those had voted for Fimian, which is also highly unlikely, then Fimian still wouldn't have enough votes to make up the difference.

Posted by: sensible | November 5, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Oh, about those absentee ballots that are sent to overseas and military voters, those ballots are sent automatically each year, without the voter having to file an absentee ballot request. Most of them are not ever voted. That is, they don't arrive at the Electoral Board ever. In fact, many people who file an application for an absentee ballot don't return a voted ballot.

Posted by: sensible | November 5, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

I find it ironic that the Democrat responses are that if Fimian were to ask for a recount, it would be a WASTE of taxpayer dollars. If the shoe was on the other foot, and Gerry Connolly was behind by the same amount as Keith Fimian is now, Gerry would certainly be asking for a recount. So, fellow Democrats, what is it with the double standards that you imply?

I want to leave you with one thought. Let's take a trip 2 years back into history. In the Senate race for the state of Minnesota, Norm Coleman was running against Al Franken. On the evening of election after the polls closed, Norm Coleman was 621 votes ahead of Al Franken. Norm Coleman went forward with his acceptance / victory speech. However, it was Al Franken (the Democrat) who challenged the election to a recount. The result? Al Franken won by 312 votes.

What if Al Franken had not pushed for the recount and just conceded? Has this been a thought that any of you Democrats had considered? Did you write letters complaining about Al Franken's mis-use of tax dollars for his recount?

Posted by: 4arocker | November 6, 2010 12:54 AM | Report abuse

If a recount is conducted the same way that the recount was conducted for the Attorney General race in 2005 between Bob McDonnell and Creigh Deeds, the only items that are looked at are the summary tapes from the touch screen machines, the summary tapes from the optical scan machine (scanned paper ballots), and the individual hand counted ballots, which are compared to the Statement of Results, as corrected in the canvass.
The tapes from the machines were examined in the canvass, and any discrepancies between the tapes and the Statement of Results that the election officials hand wrote (and were found to contain copying and arithmetic errors) were corrected. The only possible place that a recount could find errors is in those hand counted ballots, and those were way, way less than 968. I think that in Fairfax County there may have been about 350 or so hand counted ballots, and a majority of those were for Connolly.

Posted by: sensible | November 6, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

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