Vote Margin Tightens Further in Democratic County Executive Primary

Elections officials to count remaining provisional ballots Sunday


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Workers operate a vote counting machine at the Montgomery County Board of Elections

Andrew Metcalf

The already-thin vote margin between the top two Democratic contenders for Montgomery County executive narrowed even further Saturday.

A new batch of absentee and provisional ballots has trimmed County Council member Marc Elrich’s lead over businessman David Blair from 141 votes to a mere 86.

Elections officials over the past two days have counted 3,211 Democratic absentee ballots, which added 815 votes to Elrich’s total and 814 to Blair’s tally.

More than 2,200 Democratic provisional ballots have also been included in the election results in the past several days. Blair enjoyed an advantage in that batch, capturing 642 votes to Elrich’s 578.

Elrich ended Saturday with 37,510 votes overall, while Blair had 37,424.

All that remains to be done Sunday is evaluate roughly 970 provisional ballots that have been recommended for rejection, according to Marjorie Roher, spokeswoman for the county’s board of elections.

The elections board website states that the results for tomorrow’s count should be posted online by 9 p.m.

Voters use provisional ballots in a variety of situations, such as if an election worker can’t find their name on a voter list for a particular polling place or if they didn’t provide identification when asked.

About 83,000 Maryland voters were affected by a Motor Vehicle Administration glitch that failed to update their party affiliation or address information in time for the primary, according to the Baltimore Sun. Voters in that group likely had to cast provisional ballots on election day.

Provisional ballots are accepted and counted if the county board of elections finds the voter is registered and eligible to vote a provisional ballot in Maryland.

Since election night, Blair and Elrich have been locked in a near-tie for first place. Elrich has maintained a slim lead throughout the post-election canvassing, although he lost ground in the first round of absentee ballot counting and with the provisional ballots so far.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at bethany.rodgers@bethesdamagazine.com.

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