Deeds Prepares for Recount in Tight Attorney General Race

By Carol Morello
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 9, 2005; 3:54 PM

RICHMOND, Nov. 9 -- R. Creigh Deeds, the Democratic candidate for state attorney general, said Wednesday that voting machines in the Roanoke area had malfunctioned in Virginia's elections Tuesday and that he has appointed a team to prepare for a state-paid recount.

In separate remarks, Timothy M. Kaine, the Democratic governor-elect, said the margin in the attorney general's race -- the closest in Virginia history -- was within the half-percentage point required for a recount.

"I'm going to do everything I can to make sure every vote is counted," said Deeds after strolling into a meeting room at the Marriott Hotel in Richmond a few minutes before Kaine was to give his first post-election news conference.

Deeds stopped short of alleging fraud, and he said he did not know precisely what had happened in the Roanoke area. But he cited "anecdotal evidence" of irregularities reported in both Roanoke County and the city of Roanoke.

"People pushed the touch screen for my name, and on the final page they had voted for Bob McDonnell," he said, naming his Republican opponent.

The irregularity was noticed, and "it finally cleared up," Deeds added.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, the State Board of Elections Wednesday had Deeds, a state senator from Bath County, trailing Robert F. McDonnell, a member of the House of Delegates from Virginia Beach, by about 2,000 votes out of nearly 1.94 million cast. The latest tally showed McDonnell with 50.01 percent and Deeds with 49.91 percent. Write-ins accounted for 0.08 percent.

Deeds also said that in some localities he did not receive the number of votes he had anticipated. "Perhaps I miscalculated," he allowed.

He said he has appointed both a transition team and a recount team and predicted it could take as long as a month for the election to be settled.

"It's not over," Deeds said. "When every vote's counted, I'm going to be the next attorney general of Virginia."

In the meantime, he said, he was returning to his home and family in Bath County.

"I've got horses that need to be fed," he said. "I've got kids I need to hold again."

With Deeds at his side Tuesday night at a victory speech by Kaine, outgoing Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) said the attorney general's race was "too close to call," despite Republican claims to have won it. "All we ask -- all we demand -- is that every vote is fairly counted," Warner said.

Staff writer William Branigin contributed to this report from Washington.

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