Rep. Bob Good refuses to accept results in 5th District primary

Published 5:24 pm Monday, June 24, 2024

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The votes have been counted, everything has been totaled up and we have a winner. But we still have a week before the Republican primary for Virginia’s 5th District Congressional seat is certified and one candidate is threatening to file a legal challenge, calling for a do-over vote in at least one city. 

“This election must not be certified!” That was what incumbent 5th District U.S. Rep. Bob Good told his supporters Monday in an email. “Unfortunately, we are finding much to question and challenge during the canvassing process.” 

Good was reacting after the final provisional and mail-in ballots were counted. As it stands, with all known ballots in, challenger and Virginia State Sen. John McGuire holds a 31,583 to 31,209 lead in the Republican primary. That’s a 374 vote lead, the largest it’s been since the primary day. And with the numbers in, McGuire declared victory, thanking residents in the 5th District for choosing him. 

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“The final tally of votes are in, and the outcome of the 5th District election has been confirmed,” McGuire wrote in an email to his supporters Monday night. “I am looking forward to November and becoming part of the America First victory not only in Virginia but across the country. It’s time for us to come together as a party and focus on the bigger goal—winning in November. We need to unite and ensure a Republican victory to keep our conservative values strong.”

So on the one hand, yes, the ballot counting is over, at least for now, and the election in the 5th District appears to be over. That certainly was how Virginia Republican Party Chairman Rich Anderson took it. In a statement Monday, Anderson said it’s time to move on. 

“The 5th Congressional District Republican Primary Election has now concluded, and I congratulate State Senator John McGuire on being the Republican nominee,” Anderson said. “Further, I thank Congressman Bob Good for his service to the Commonwealth and country. Given the margin, Congressman Good has the right—after the State Board of Elections certifies this result on July 2nd—to request a recount of the election. As Americans, we should respect his right to do so.”

A bit more than a recount

Anderson was right. Under Virginia law, Good would be able to call for a recount. But he appears to be focused on a different kind of challenge. Later on Monday, speaking as a guest on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast, Good said he will be filing a legal challenge to stop the certification of the vote in the city of Lynchburg. 

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. 

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.”

He also details other concerns about the race, including accusations about false fire alarms and problems dealing with Buckingham County, all of which we investigated here,

Good goes on the clock in 5th District 

Now as we mentioned earlier, Good is on the clock. Due to the fact the margin of victory is less than 1%, under Virginia law he is allowed to call for a recount. But in Virginia, there are no automatic recounts. He has to ask for one, but has to do it within 10 days of the election results being certified. Currently, as we mentioned earlier, the results are set to be certified by July 2. If Good files the legal challenge against the Lynchburg votes, then that delays certification. And delays any potential recount. 

But the rules associated with a recount may also explain why he’s raising complaints. In order for a recount to be approved, he would have to argue there was a malfunction with the equipment or some other reason that the ballots were not counted correctly. In that case, the local board of elections in each county would simply count the votes again, this time by hand. And now comes the second issue. He can get a recount, but it’s not free.
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. As of now, McGuire’s margin of victory stands at 0.6%, meaning Good would need to cover the cost.
The candidate asking for the recount would have to first post a bond in the amount of $10 per precinct. In those situations, if the accusing candidate wins the recount, the cost of running it would be paid by the counties. But if the accusing candidate loses, then he has to pay.

Time to move on

McGuire, meanwhile, is calling on Rep. Bob Good to give up on the race. He’s asking Good’s supporters to work with other Republicans as a team.
“While I understand the desire to continue the fight, the outcome of this election will not change,” McGuire said. “The fight is over, and it’s time to move on and work together as a team. I’ve always found that that’s the best way to get things done for We the People. I’m looking forward to serving our great country in a new way!”