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Virginia Beach Council recounts to begin Monday, races will be counted all at once

A circuit court judge ruled that machines will run ballots only one time for all three races, denying a motion.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) — The recounts for three Virginia Beach City Council races will begin on Monday after a circuit court judge decided all 3 races should be counted simultaneously.

Judge Glenn Croshaw determined that the ballots will all be run through the high-speed counting machines one time, scanning results for all three races under review.

"We're breaking ground here because this has never been done before in the Commonwealth of Virginia," attorney Gary Byler said. "I think we're on some questionable ground with the court moving to merge three cases when there's been no motion to merge the cases."

Byler is representing councilmen-elect John Moss and Louis Jones. He argued the process could lead to more hand-counting of votes and potential human error.

"Now if the machines question a ballot on any of the three races, it has to be counted in all of the three races," he said. "Our position is if the machine has no problem with the ballot in two of the three races, that ballot should only be questioned for the one race where there's an issue."

Judge Croshaw did not side with Byler's argument in the courtroom Friday. An attorney for councilman-elect David Nygaard also argued similar points, but the court sided with the process proposed by the Board of Elections that was supported by attorneys representing Dee Oliver, John Uhrin, and Brad Martin.

Nygaard said the potential additional hand-counted votes could add human error, but he felt comfortable the results would stand.

"After the canvass, I had the most votes and I'm confident after the recount I'll have the most votes," he said.

Byler said he doubts all three results will change after a recount.

"I'm more likely to get hit by lightning twice on the way to the car than that occurring," he joked.

However, Byler said if the results for his clients Jones and Moss do change, he'll likely seek additional litigation to challenge the process being used and the accuracy of the results.

Still, the candidates present at Friday's court session said they have full confidence and integrity of the election officials who will start counting on Monday.

"They're picked and appointed because of their integrity and honesty so we have 100 percent confidence in them," candidate Brad Martin said.

The City of Virginia Beach will test the machines that will count the ballots on Saturday morning and the official recounts will start at Building 19 on the government campus shortly after 10 a.m. Monday morning.

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