UPDATED: Sheriff Glen Hill is the apparent winner of Prince William County's closest race, but his Democratic challenger Josh King had yet to concede the contest Thursday afternoon.
"We have not yet made a decision on whether to pursue a recount," King campaign manager Katie Baker said in a text message Thursday afternoon.
When the last ballots were finally counted late Wednesday afternoon, Hill was ahead of King by 775 votes. That's too big a spread to allow King to request a free recount. If King decides to petition a judge for a recount anyway, it will cost an estimated $4,000, according to Matt Wilson, spokesman for the Prince William County Office of Elections.
King will have until 10 days after the vote is certified by the State Board of Elections to request a recount, according to Virginia law. The local board is likely to certify the election results on Friday. The state board would likely certify the vote shortly thereafter, Wilson said.
Calls to the Hill campaign for comment have not been returned. On Wednesday, Bill Card, chairman of the Prince William County Republican Committee, said Hill would wait until the vote is certified before acknowledging the win.
Current totals have Hill with 56,242 votes in Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park, compared to King's 55,483 votes, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.
Hill, a Republican, is vying for his fifth term as sheriff of Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park. His win is a bright spot in a tough election for the GOP. Prince William County's other countywide posts went to Democrats on Tuesday, along with majorities on both the school board and board of supervisors.
Hill faced a strong challenge for re-election from King, 38, a Fairfax County Sheriff's deputy and Iraq war vet who promised to do away with the county's controversial 287(g) agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement if elected and to implement other reforms in the sheriff's department.
The race was a nail-biter after the polls closed Tuesday night. In part because of a computer glitch on the Virginia Department of Elections website, it was not clear throughout the night how many of the 105 precincts in Prince William, Manassas and Manassas Park were reporting vote totals.
Hill was initially ahead Tuesday night, but then King pulled in front by about 1,300 votes. Hill then picked up ground and remained ahead in the vote totals Wednesday as officials added a handful of precincts that could not be uploaded into the state's system Tuesday night because of a problem with the state website, Wilson said.
As of Wednesday morning, there were still no results for the sheriff’s race showing in the Burke Nickens, Penn, Triangle, Battlefield and King precincts.
“I was literally manually typing in the results and hitting save and [the numbers] would disappear,” Wilson said Wednesday morning. “We literally [could] not give [the state] the numbers. I [couldn't] hit save.”
Votes from the King Elementary School precinct were the last to be tallied Wednesday afternoon. The precinct handed 785 votes to King and 409 votes to Hill, shrinking Hill's lead to 775 votes.
The vote totals from Haymarket Elementary school, formally known as the Burke-Nickens precinct, added 738 votes to Hill's tally; 551 votes to King's tally; and 118 votes to the total garnered so far by Rhonda Dickson, an independent in the race.
The Battlefield High School precinct was a big winner for Hill, handing him 944 votes or 63.27%. King picked up 433 votes at Battlefield, while independent Rhonda Dickson garnered 111 votes, according to unofficial election results.
The Penn Elementary School District was also a good one for Hill, handing him 57.4% of the vote, or 779 votes, compared to King's 442 votes, or 32.62%.
King won the lion's share of the vote at Triangle Elementary School: 641 or 56.33% to Hill's 402 or 35.33%.
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