On Wednesday, December 27, the party that controls the Virginia House of Delegates will be determined by lot – effectively a coin flip.
The election battle between Shelly Simonds (D) and David Yancey (R) in the House’s 94th District ended in a dead tie, with 11,608 votes cast for each. The initial tally showed Simonds 10 votes behind, but after a recount that put her one vote ahead and then a judicial determination that a questioned ballot should be counted for Yancey, the race ended in a tie. Under Virginia rules, as with other states, a tie is decided by lot.
If Yancey wins, Republicans will hold a slim 51-49 seat majority and retain control of the House of Delegates. If Simonds wins, the allocation of seats will be 50-50; and Democrats will share power with the Republicans. This would end 18 years of Republican control of the lower chamber of the Virginia General Assembly.
When the outcome of a close election effectively determines which party controls a state, it should remind us just how important election security is. Progressive opponents of election security laws constantly claim that because the number of fraudulent votes is a small percentage of the total votes cast, election fraud is a non-issue. But the logic of that argument is shattered when an election is close or, in this case, a tie. A single fraudulent vote can determine the outcome of the election. And, in this instance, a single vote can determine the direction that an entire state will take.
One would like to believe that every one of the 23,216 ballots cast in the Virginia contest was cast by a legitimate, qualified voter. And that the tie really is a tie. Hopefully, that’s the case. Unfortunately, it’s likely that there were fraudulent votes cast in this contest.
In May 2017, a study by the Public Interest Legal Foundation found that Virginia had discovered 5,556 noncitizens on its voter rolls. Of those, 1,852 noncitizens had cast a total of 7,474 ballots over a decade. And this number is only a fraction of the total number of noncitizens voting in Virginia – because 5,556 were only those noncitizens that officials somehow found. They were registered voters who admitted to Virginia election officials that they were noncitizens. The total number of noncitizens on Virginia’s voter rolls is much greater.
So chances are high that a handful of noncitizens cast ballots in the tied 94th District election. But even if only one noncitizen did so, that’s enough to steal the election when it’s a dead tie.
This outcome didn’t happen in a political vacuum either. Virginia Democrat Gov.Terry McAuliffe set the stage for the Democrats to take this seat from the Republican incumbent. In 2017, McAuliffe vetoed HB 1581, a bill that would have required voter registrars to check incoming voter applications against state and federal databases to better weed out ineligible voters. He also vetoed several other election-security bills. And let’s not forget that, in 2016, he used his pardon power to restore the voting rights of 60,000 felons who were ineligible to vote under Virginia law. It’s a virtual certainty that some of those felons, too, were among the 23,216 voters in 94th District’s tied election.
Those felons are now permitted to vote. But noncitizens remain ineligible. And the number of noncitizens on the voter rolls is significant. Virginia would do well to follow the example of the four states that require proof of citizenship at the time of voter registration — Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, and Kansas. But even if somehow Virginia made that reform with Democrats in control, it would be too late to remove the ineligible votes from the 2017 election.
Meanwhile, the Left continues to tell us to look the other way. Nothing to see here. Voter fraud doesn’t exist. And in those rare cases where it does occur, it’s not enough votes to swing an election.
Except for now, when a single fraudulent vote can change the course of Virginia politics.
Kris W. Kobach is the elected Secretary of State of Kansas. He drafted and pushed for Kansas’s 2011 law bringing proof of citizenship and photo ID to Kansas elections. An expert in immigration law and policy, he coauthored the Arizona SB-1070 immigration law and represented in federal court the ten ICE agents who sued to stop Obama’s 2012 executive amnesty. He is currently a candidate for Governor of Kansas. His website is kriskobach.com.