Poll workers at the Silver Spring Civic Center early voting site Credit: Andrew Metcalf

Thousands of Montgomery County voters may have to cast a provisional ballot in Tuesday’s primary election due to a “computer glitch” at the Motor Vehicle Administration that failed to update the addresses of voters who made changes on the MVA’s website or at self-service kiosks since April 2017.

The computer glitch resulted in the updated addresses and party affiliations of about 80,000 Maryland voters not being added to voter lists for polling locations in the state.

The State Board of Elections announced it uncovered the larger scope of the issue Monday night, hours before polls opened Tuesday morning for the state primary election. The board initially reported over the weekend only about 18,000 voters were impacted.

On Tuesday morning, Margie Roher, spokeswoman for the Montgomery County Board of Elections, said she did not know how many registered voters in the county would have to cast provisional ballots.

She said the state has not sent a list identifying the voters affected by the glitch.

The state board said in a statement Monday night that it has sent about 74,000 emails to affected voters notifying them to contact the board to ensure their voter information is correct and to help identify their polling places.

Montgomery County has about 17 percent of the state’s registered voters—so a rough estimate would mean as many as 13,000 county voters may have to cast provisional ballots in the primary. Those provisional ballots won’t be counted until July 5, meaning Tuesday night’s results, particularly in close races, may not be able to be called tonight.

That could create uncertainty for candidates running in the races for the Democratic nomination for county executive and County Council at-large—two highly competitive contests in this year’s primary.

However, early voting totals may foreshadow that the problem may not have a major impact on Tuesday night’s results. Roher said 435 provisional ballots were cast out the 36,685 ballots voters cast during the week-long early voting period from July 14 to 21. That’s about 1 percent.

Roher said election judges are nonetheless prepared for an influx of provisional ballots being cast.

“The reality is the provisional voting process is a standard process that’s been used for years by the election judges in Montgomery County,” Roher said.

She noted that if a voter’s address doesn’t match the information on the county’s voter registration list, then a poll judge will check the voter’s ID and provide the voter with a provisional ballot and information sheet. When elections officials count the provisional ballots, they’ll also review the information sheet to make sure each voter was eligible to vote and had the correct ballot.

“The important thing is we want to assure voters that their vote will count,” Roher said. “It may count next week, but it will be included in the final tally.”

The formal results of Tuesday’s election are expected to be certified on July 7 or 8, according to Roher.

Those results will include the approximately 15,000 absentee ballots that have been distributed to county voters as of Monday night. Out-of-county voters can request an absentee ballot today, but it must be postmarked today as well. Elections officials will begin counting the absentee ballots Thursday and have a second count on July 6 for the ballots that come in the mail after Thursday, according to Roher.

She said elections officials hope to have election night results from the county’s precincts in by midnight.