Even though elections have vast repercussions, millions of Americans registered to vote still choose to stay home. This may change some of those minds.

Since 2000, Republicans have controlled the House of Delegates in Virginia, despite changes in partisan control of the senate and governor’s mansion. However, one single vote just changed the balance of power in Virginia’s lower legislative chamber for the first time in nearly two decades following a tense recount.

Last month, Democrat Ralph Northam won a solid victory against Republican Ed Gillespie in Virginia’s gubernatorial election. Several Democrats picked up big wins, including Democratic socialist Lee Carter, who beat Republican Jackson Miller — the House Majority Whip. Additionally, Danica Roem, who is a trans woman, beat longtime Republican delegate Bob Marshall (who authored Virginia’s bathroom bill) by ten points.

However, the most significant Democratic win happened this week, long after election night in Virginia. Originally, Republican delegate David Yancey, who had represented the 94th district of Virginia since 2011, narrowly won re-election by a remarkably slim 10 votes. Given the close margin, Democrat Shelley Simonds asked for a recount. The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that following the recount, Simonds was the official winner by one vote — 11,608 to 11,607. That’s a 0.004 percent margin of victory.

With Simonds as the newly minted winner, this means Democrats and Republicans now each have 50 seats in the House of Delegates. Even though Republicans control the Virginia senate by two seats, both the governor and lieutenant governor — who presides over the state senate — are Democrats. This means Republicans will now have no choice but to compromise and work with Democrats if they want to govern.

A three-judge panel will certify the results of the recount on Wednesday.


Jordan Shaw is a New Jersey-based freelancer specializing in national and state government issues. When he’s not writing, you can find him volunteering in Camden, New Jersey, or hiking the Wissahickon Valley Park.

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