Recount in three Virginia Beach city council races now underway

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The recount for three city council races began Monday morning and could last all week.

The races for the Beach district, Bayside district, and At-large seat are now in the process of being recounted.

This week election officials will be running about 170,000 ballots through three high speed voting machines. The machines can count about 200 ballots per minute, Registrar Donna Patterson said.

If there's an issue like an overvote or an undervote, teams of nonpartisan election officials will then make a determination on how the ballot should be counted and then tally it by hand.

"This is a little different, but we're getting through it," Patterson said. "We talked it through and we're doing the best we can."

If ballots remain contested, a three judge panel will rule on them on Thursday or Friday but as of 5:30 p.m., Monday 17 of 101 precincts were recounted and no lead changes have been reported yet.

The closest race is in the Beach district, where David Nygaard has a 212 vote lead over the incumbent, John Uhrin.

The next closest race is for the second At-Large seat. Aaron Rouse convincingly won the first one, but incumbent John Moss leads by just 347 over Dee Oliver for the second seat.

In the third recount race, incumbent Louis Jones leads Brad Martin by 503 votes in the Bayside district race.

Martin said he's happy with the recount so far. "It's a big process here and they're handling it very well."

Others are questioning if the recount is too chaotic. Nygaard and Gary Byler, the attorney representing Jones and Moss, requested the recounts be done separately, but judges ruled against them on Friday.

"I don't think there's any animus here. I think there's a lot of confusion," Byler said. "It goes back to the fact that instead of doing three we're doing a hybrid that's never been seen before."

Nygaard and Byler noted some confusion over the rules, including whether campaign observers could watch the voting machines. Byler says they've been told they can't.

"When you have concurrent recounts like this, it's never happened before and they make up the rules as they go," Nygaard said.

This is the first time a recount like this has been attempted in Virginia. Election officials are hoping to wrap it up by the end of the week.

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