Though it was a pleasant experience to wake up knowing that every candidate I voted for won (for me it was the first time any candidate I voted for won) and that the Democrats had taken the House and made gains in the Senate, one part of my morning-after-election-day experience was very familiar: I woke up not knowing what the full results were. The New York Times says I might not know for a while:
Virginia's election laws allow an apparent loser to request a recount if a contest's margin is less than 1 percent - and the margin in the preliminary results of the state's Senate election stood this morning at about one-third of 1 percent.November 27th! That's a long time! I don't know if I can wait that long to find out if Democrats take the Senate.
While a recount seems likely, though, if it comes it will not come quickly.
According to a statement issued this month by the state's Board of Elections, no request for a recount may be filed until the vote is certified, which is scheduled to happen this year on Nov. 27th.
After certification, a losing candidate has 10 days to file a recount request in the state courts. The petition will be considered by a panel made up of the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court in Richmond and two judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court. Those judges then set out guidelines for conducting the recount.
The article notes that Virginia's last recount didn't see much 'wiggle room' created. In a race for state Attorney General, the margin was 323 votes out of more than 1.9 million cast. If a recount doesn't close that gap, the likelihood that it will make a difference in a race with a margin of just under 8,000 seems small.
That said, we may be waiting a while for the official results. For the next few weeks, Virginia is for Lawyers.
Don't forget that it would be perfectly legal for the sitting Republican Senate to declare Allen the winner and technically the whole problem would go away...
Virginia Senate Recount George Allen Jim Webb 2006 Election