Republican Congressional Candidate Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) said in a statement published to his Facebook page Thursday that the results of Virginia’s 7th District race, which saw Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) win re-election, will probably not change.
In the week following the general elections and Spanberger’s declaration of victory, Freitas and his campaign have been publicly quiet while reviewing post-election canvasses and ensuring that every legal vote cast is counted, according to the statement.
“The big thing here is we’re not accusing anyone of fraud, I am not accusing anyone of fraud or anything like that, but there were some things we want to look at,” Freitas said in an interview with The Virginia Star. “Once the state actually puts out the full voter rolls, we’re going to have a better chance of trying to identify what happened and why it happened because obviously there were some irregularities.”
One such irregularity Freitas brought up was Henrico County posting 14,616 absentee votes that were originally overlooked on election night because the ballots were saved on a mislabeled flash drive, as first reported by the Virginia Public Access Project.
Henrico County general registrar Mark Coakley told CBS 6 that the ballots were accidentally overlooked because he used a flash drive that was previously for provisional ballots in order to save money.
Freitas maintains that he has not conceded the race yet and will not do so until the campaign has had a chance to look at the official vote counts.
“Part of the goal here is not necessarily going to result in overturning the results of the 7th district, it’s more about understanding where mistakes were made and how do we correct that because next year Democrats have already got it on the books for same day voter registration, and we don’t want to see repeats of irregularities,” Freitas told The Star. “We want people to be confident in the results.”
He added: “And, in the end, if the result is that I lost the race then I have absolutely no problem conceding.”
The state will certify all Virginia elections, including the 11 congressional races, on Monday.
Freitas also said that the possibility of a lawsuit is on the table if his campaign finds substantial evidence of fraud or other problems after reviewing the data.
“If we find significant irregularities, yes we would do that,” Freitas said. “If there’s some minor things that can be explained, probably not.”
The Star contacted Spanberger’s campaign with a request for comment for this story, but did not get a response by press time.
Spanberger is currently up by slightly less than two percentage points and holds an 8,270-vote advantage over Freitas, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.
On election night, Freitas jumped out to a 50,000-vote lead over Spanberger because many Republicans voted in-person at polling places, but there were thousands of early votes still left to be counted.
As more absentee ballots, which skewed heavily in Spanberger’s favor, continued to be counted overnight and throughout the day on Wednesday, Freitas’ lead kept shrinking.
By Wednesday evening Spanberger was ahead by roughly 5,000 votes thanks to absentee and in-person early votes coming in from several of the district’s counties, including the aforementioned 15,000 from Henrico.
Hours later Spanberger had declared herself the victor and then several days later media outlets like the Associated Press officially called the race for the Democratic congresswoman.
“Ultimately, I believe in peaceful transitions of power. I believe when someone has won an election, they have won and I don’t begrudge them a victory,” Freitas said. “This isn’t about me going after Abigail Spanberger, this is about trying to understand why certain things have happened and how do we correct that for future races.”
– – –
Jacob Taylor is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network. Follow Jacob on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Nick Freitas” by Nick Freitas. Background Photo “Virginia Capitol” by Anderskev. CC BY 3.0.