RICHMOND, Va. — A federal judge has refused to order that 55 absentee ballots be counted in the election of a member of the Virginia House of Delegates.

The Washington Post reports Judge Claude Hilton said Friday in Alexandria that while the ballots that arrived the day after the Nov. 7 election were late, he saw no evidence of improprieties.

The election in Stafford County has Republican Robert Thomas ahead of Joshua Cole by 82 votes. Cole’s campaign argued in a lawsuit that the ballots were late because of post office problems and should be counted.

The Virginia House Democratic Caucus said in a statement that the ruling was disappointing and the caucus is assessing its options.

The Stafford County race is one of three that may be headed for a recount.