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Random-winner drawing delayed in tied Virginia House of Delegates race after challenge by Democratic candidate

by Ali Vitali /  / Updated 
Republican David Yancey and Democrat Shelly Simonds attend a "take your legislator to school day" on Nov. 28 at Heritage High School in Newport News, Virginia.Julia Rendleman / The Washington Post via Getty Images

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Lady Luck's moment in Virginia's political spotlight will have to wait.

The Virginia State Board of Elections will postpone its Wednesday random-drawing tiebreaker, granting a request from Democrat Shelly Simonds less than 24-hours before the unusual political event.

"We’ve been informed that the SBE is postponing their meeting," a board of elections spokeswoman told NBC News Tuesday, adding that more details will be passed along "as soon as we get them."

Republican David Yancey and Democrat Shelly Simonds attend a "take your legislator to school day" on Nov. 28 at Heritage High School in Newport News, Virginia.Julia Rendleman / The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Board of Elections was set to meet Wednesday morning in Richmond to determine the winner of the hotly-contested House of Delegates race between Simonds and Republican incumbent David Yancey by randomly drawing the winner's name, most likely out of a bowl.

Simonds' lawyers, Jonathan Berkon and Ezra Reese, told reporters in a conference call Tuesday that "there isn't any hurry" and a delay would allow for further review of the tie determination in the contest, 11,608 to 11,608.

Simonds' camp has filed motions asking a court to declare her the winner and suspend a judges' panel declaration of a tie last week, arguing that they should not have reviewed the discarded ballot that allowed the race to become tied up. The judges ruled that the previously tossed ballot should have been counted for Yancey, a decision that erased Simonds' one-point victory and equalized the result.

Matt Abell, Lead SBE Election Administration Analyst, holds the crystal bowl from which the political party slips were drawn at the June 26th board meeting.Virginia Dept. of Elections

That ballot in question had both candidates' bubbles filled in but Simonds' bubble had a slash mark through it and the judges interpreted that as meaning the voter didn't want to vote for the Democrat.

Simonds had earlier been declared the apparent winner in the race for the 94th District seat, a victory that would have flipped the red seat blue and created a 50-50 tie in the Virginia House.

If the drawing does ever take place, under one of the possible lottery scenarios, the state Board of Election would put each candidate's name in an old film canister, place the canisters into a glass bowl, shake it up, and then pick the canister with the winner's name inside. It remained unclear who would have the honor of selecting the winner.

The drawing would have been live-streamed on Facebook starting around 10 a.m., ET.

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Should Simonds end up eventually taking the seat, it would mark the first time in two decades that Virginia's House was evenly divided and could lead to an unusual power-sharing arrangement in the legislature.

The 94th district isn't only Virginia district with its election results hanging in the balance.

Democrats are currently challenging the results out of Fredericksburg after about 100 residents in a split precinct were given the wrong ballot on Election Day in a House of Delegates contest. That case is set to go to court early next year and could further impact the balance of power in the legislature.

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