With votes certified, is the 5th District Republican primary over?

Published 1:34 am Wednesday, July 3, 2024

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We have an official winner in the 5th District Republican primary race. The Virginia Board of Elections on Tuesday, July 2 certified the results, acknowledging State Sen. John McGuire as the winner with 31,583 votes to incumbent Bob Good with 31,209. 

“Number one, I want to thank God,” McGuire said in a statement after the results were certified. “We could not have done this without my wife Tracy, our incredible team, and of course Trump! This is the honor of a lifetime. I look forward to continuing our fight for Virginia families every day in Congress. I humbly ask for your support in November, both for my campaign and for President Donald J. Trump. Without Trump and a Republican Congress, we will lose our great country.”

Now as for the big question, the answer is no. It’s not over. Just after the certification took place, Bob Good said he’s moving forward with the recount. 

“Now that the preliminary certification of the primary election has concluded, we will move into a recount,” Good said in a statement. “In a race with nearly 63,000 votes that is separated by a 0.6% margin, Republican voters across the 5th District deserve to know that all legal votes have been accurately counted. We will vigorously pursue that objective over the coming days and weeks, as permitted by Virginia law.”

Now in this case, the commonwealth doesn’t automatically pick up the bill. The state pays for the recount in cases where the margin of victory is less than or equal to 0.5%. For any other requested recounts, the candidate has to put up the funds. Based on the certified results, McGuire’s margin of victory stands at 0.6%, meaning Good will need to cover the cost. If he wins the recount, that money will be refunded. 

A 5th District Republican primary recount

In his request, Bob Good has to present a reason for a recount in the 5th District Republican primary. He has to claim there was a malfunction with the equipment or some other reason that the ballots were not counted correctly.

We’ve seen him try to make this case in recent weeks. Good won in Lynchburg, with 58.1% of the vote, but issues raised by both sides of one Republican primary for a city council seat drew concern. In press releases and social media posts by both city council candidates, there were questions about the Lynchburg ballot drop box, which both city campaigns say was left unlocked and open, with ballots being found inside at noon on Friday and then counted, despite it being three days after the primary. To be clear, there were only seven ballots found inside on that Friday, not enough to change the results. 

The campaigns said they also witnessed confusion from electoral board members and staff over the proper process to count votes. One of the city council candidates, Peter Alexander, sent out a statement saying “records show that ballot box seals were broken and absentee ballot processing started before our observer was permitted access to watch the process.”

Good has also made allegations about the vote in Buckingham County, where McGuire won with 621 votes to Good’s 485. 

“The election data in (Buckingham) is a disaster, and they have been fighting our efforts to review and assess the results,” Good wrote in an email to supporters. He didn’t explain further what qualified as a ‘disaster’ when it comes to the data.

Current Buckingham registrar Ginger Chiesa said she had no comment about Good’s statement or the election process. 

More questions in the race

He also raised questions about why fire alarms were pulled at three 5th District precincts at the same time on Primary Day, including the Crozet precinct in Albemarle County, the Patrick Henry High School in Hanover County and the Liberty University precinct in Lynchburg. The Dispatch confirmed there were no fires at any of the three. Elections officials said in each case, the election equipment was secured and voting resumed when the buildings reopened, roughly 30 minutes later. 

Good won Crozet with 65.1% of the vote, 166 to his challenger John McGuire’s 89. McGuire won Patrick Henry with 58.6% of the vote, 234 to 165. 

The Liberty University precinct is a unique one, because it’s for students who live on campus. But since that was June, there were very few at school and fewer who cast a ballot. The precinct records show only six voters the entire day. The precinct did shut down for a few minutes while election officials checked to see if there was a fire. But nobody was turned away. Good won there with 87% of the vote. 

During Tuesday’s Board of Elections meeting, members said they feel everything went smoothly.

“I think we can comfortably say that we’ve had free and fair elections,” said Virginia Board of Elections Chairman James O’Bannon.