Update: Dec. 17, 2013 at 6:25 p.m.
Original: Dec. 17, 2013 at 1:23 p.m.
RICHMOND, Va. — Democrat Mark Herring was widening his lead over Republican Mark Obenshain on Tuesday as the entire state joined in a recount of the historically close race for attorney general.
Herring built on his lead in Fairfax County, the state’s most populous, and statewide he was adding to that margin, according to county officials and the Herring campaign.
The recount continues through Wednesday in more than 130 localities statewide. The State Board of Elections certified Herring’s 165-vote edge over Obenshain in what was the closest race statewide race in modern Virginia political history.
Obenshain petitioned for the recount, which is being done at taxpayer expense.
Fairfax County and the cities of Chesapeake and Alexandria got a one-day head start on the recount Monday because of the large number of ballots to be counted by hand. The rest of the state joined in Tuesday.
With more than half of Fairfax County precincts counted before noon Tuesday, Herring had added 256 votes to his lead. Statewide, including Fairfax County, Herring had a 600-vote lead, according to numbers provided by the Herring campaign. It said nearly 49 percent of the state had completed its recount.
The State Board of Elections on Wednesday will begin tabulating the statewide total as numbers begin arriving from jurisdictions around the state.
Four ballots in Fairfax County had been contested or challenged by recount officers, said Brian Schoeneman, secretary of the county’s electoral board. In one instance, the ballot had a check mark placed between the bubbles where voters were to make their mark for attorney general.
The recount officers decided to let officials in Richmond make the call on the voter’s intent, Schoeneman said.
Marc Elias, Herring’s legal counsel, said in a conference call there has not been a large number of challenged ballots emerging from the recount. He said the campaign expected the margin over Obenshain to widen as it continues, and that Herring again would emerge the victor.
Obenshain’s campaign made no predictions on the outcome.
“It’s important to see it through and ensure that we get an accurate result,” spokesman Paul Logan said. “That’s been our goal since the minute polls closed.”
Challenged ballots will be reviewed by a three-judge recount court. It is scheduled to convene Wednesday for a hearing and begin considering challenged ballots Thursday and Friday.
Wednesday is the deadline for localities to complete their re-tabulations.
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