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Governor’s Race Recount Certifies Wilder Victory

December 22, 1989

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A three-judge panel on Thursday certified the election to governor of Democrat L. Douglas Wilder in a recount that gave him a 6,741-vote margin over Republican J. Marshall Coleman.

The recount confirmed Wilder as the first black elected governor in history, with 896,936 votes to 890,195 for Coleman, who picked up 113 votes in the recount.

The first count of the Nov. 7 election gave Wilder victory by 6,854 votes, or four-tenths of 1 percent of the 1.78 million votes cast. Under state law, that margin was close enough for Coleman to get a recount at state expense.

The first statewide recount in Virginia was conducted Wednesday in the state’s 136 localities. The results were driven to the State Board of Elections.

William H. Hurd, Coleman’s attorney, said the Republican would not challenge the judges’ decision in the General Assembly.

″The outcome of this hard-fought contest is no longer in doubt,″ Coleman said in a prepared statement handed to reporters.

″As an individual and as the nominee of my party, I cannot deny that it hurts to come so close and yet fall short,″ Coleman said. ″But the system has worked, the people have spoken, and Doug Wilder deserves and will have my full support as our new governor.″

Wilder also issued a statement declaring that he ″never had any doubt about the outcome.″

Board of Elections employees tabulated the results from each voting machine to get totals for each of the state’s 1,967 precincts and then added those figures to get a total for each locality. The numbers were checked by independent auditors before being passed for inspection to the lawyers for Wilder and Coleman.

″The results are an outstanding tribute to the accuracy and integrity of the electoral process,″ said Lawrence Framme, chairman of the state Democratic Party. He said it was ″truly amazing″ that only 113 errors were made of almost 1.8 million votes cast, only 113 errors were made.

The Republicans, however, said the process needs to be changed to prevent felons from registering to vote. Hurd said the Coleman camp found 3,000 to 4,000 felons on the voter rolls, and he estimated that 2,000 to 3,000 voted.

Earlier, Hurd had called the recount a ″very worthwhile proceeding as I think the results will bear out.″

Circuit Judges Melvin R. Hughes Jr. of Richmond, Robert W. Stewart of Norfolk and Herbert A. Pickford III of Charlottesville were present to settle any disputes and to certify the results.

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