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Allen Hasn't Conceded Race; Senate in Balance

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Allen Hasn't Conceded Race; Senate in Balance

Allen Hasn't Conceded Race; Senate in Balance

Allen Hasn't Conceded Race; Senate in Balance

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/6457615/6457616" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Virginia Board of Elections employees count receipts from electronic voting machines in Richmond, Va. Election workers are canvassing the results from Virginia's Senate race, which currently has Democrat Jim Webb ahead of Sen. George Allen. Mark Wilson/Getty Images hide caption

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Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Virginia Senate race remains undecided, and it may determine whether Democrats take control of the Senate. Democrat Jim Webb holds a lead of more than 7,000 votes, but Republican incumbent George Allen has refused to concede.

By Wednesday afternoon, Webb's lead looked more certain than it had in the late hours after the midterm vote. His 7,000-vote advantage was out of more than 2 million ballots, and with 99 percent of precincts reporting.

And in the evening, the Associated Press called the election for Webb, projecting him to be Virginia's new junior senator — and the key to giving the Democrats a 51-49 edge in the Senate.

Still, even as Webb announced plans to name his transition team, aides to Sen. Allen said they consider the race far from over. Former National Republican Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie spoke to reporters on Allen's behalf, and called Webb's victory celebration premature.

Republicans are pinning their hopes on the so-called canvassing process, a weeklong procedure now being undertaken by local election officials, who are double-checking the vote totals for mathematical and clerical errors. And even if Webb is still ahead after the canvas, Allen could keep fighting by demanding a statewide recount.

Virginia Board of Elections Secretary Jean Jensen says that it's possible a winner would not be named until sometime around Christmas.

Despite the national significance of the race, Virginia election leaders promise to avoid a post-election fiasco like the one that developed in Florida's presidential election six years ago. They say Virginia's laws are clearer, and the voting equipment more modern.

And, they point out, the election process in Virginia is supervised by an appointed bi-partisan board, not an elected official.